Ultimate Devotion To God Only

Finding True Fulfillment Through Faith, Love And Devotion To God

Ross Sawyers
May 12, 2024    51m
Do you ever feel like your faith, love, and devotion to God have grown stagnant or lack the passion they once had? In this powerful message, you'll be challenged to examine where your ultimate devotion truly lies. Discover practical ways to reignite your love for God, deepen your faith, and realign your life to make Him your highest priority. Reignite the flame of your faith, love, and devotion to God by committing wholeheartedly to the One who pursues you with reckless abandon. Find the fulfillment you've been longing for. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: [00:00:02] Mother's Day gives us an opportunity to pause, I hope daily, where we have a gratitude for all the people in our lives and holidays help us kind of set spaces aside to think more deeply about people. And on Mother's Day, this is a picture of my mom on the, it's on my right, so my mom, my wife Lisa in the middle, and my sister-in-law, Beth, on the left. And when I think about moms, these are the ones that I've watched the most closely. with my own mom, obviously, growing up in her home, and then with my wife as a mom of two boys, and then my sister-in-law. And then a few years ago, we had an addition to our family in Beth, my daughter-in-law, and then a year ago, 14 months now, she gave birth to, Myles, our grandson. And so now I'm getting to watch up close and personal, my daughter-in-law, be a mom. I've said this a few times, and it continues to ring true if people ask, what is the best part about being a grandparent? And sometimes people often say, well, you get to give them back after you're with them. Well, we had our grandson on Thursday and Friday, and we don't like giving him back, and I love seeing him run around the corner when I came in the door and get down on a knee and just his face light up, and I missed that when he left. So I don't really love the giving back part. Maybe there's a day where that changes, I don't know, but what I do love the most is watching my daughter in law and my son be a mom and be a dad, and what they're doing with him is a treat.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:40] I know this about the moms I've observed in my life, those four. This much I know, I know that there is one word, there are all kinds of words we could use to describe them, but one word that I can describe them with is the word devoted. And I can't tell you how many tears have been shed over their children. How many times they've suffered alongside and with their children. How many times they've laughed with their kids. How many times they've agonized over decisions with their kids. How many times they've delighted in them, prayed over them, valued them. There's a devotion of a mom. And what I know about these four moms, and I know this to be true of so many of you, there is not one thing that me or my two brothers, that my two sons, that my sister in law's three kids, that my daughter in law's little boy, there's not one thing that they could do that would ever cause these four ladies to not be deeply devoted and to love their kids. I know that about these moms.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:58] If you'd turn in your Bibles to Exodus chapter 20, verse 3, and I want to build on that idea of devotion today. And we get a beautiful look at the devotion, humanly, of moms to children. I know it doesn't always play out that way, but, in so many times and ways it does, and that will help us think about this first command in Exodus chapter 20. We're going to linger in one verse of Scripture, sort of, everything is going to point back to Exodus 20, verse 3. I'll be looking at things before it, things after it, it all ties back into this one verse.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:38] A week ago, Eric Estes preached, and he gave a summary of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 to set us up for this series where we'll spend each week on one commandment. And I thought he did, as someone described, and when I listened, I thought the same, someone said he just did a masterful job laying it out for us to get us off to a great start. If you were unable to see it a week ago, I would encourage you to look at the podcast and listen to the summary of it. A few things I'll highlight that will help us today. He talked about the commandments as being both good and freeing. Often times when we think about rules or commands and we hear that, it immediately evokes something negative. And the reality is, when God gives us rules and God gives us commands, it's for our protection, it's for our provision, and it's for our freedom, and it's for our good. If you're a Mavs fan, and you've been tracking the Mavericks, they're up 2-1. Yesterday I was watching the game, the end of it. And I mean Luka Doncic, it just looks like he went into a full-on football game, the guy is just getting beaten left and right. Imagine if there were no rules what it would be like, but you can actually flourish and enjoy and play the game when there's rules around it. So God has given us rules so that we can actually thrive and flourish, not to hold us back. And one of the things that Eric pointed out so clearly, is that this is what God did, he chose a people for himself, he delivered and rescued them, and then he laid out for them, this is what it looks like to follow me. He didn't say to them when they've been in slavery for 400 years, hey, look, here's the deal, here's ten commands I have for you, here's ten rules I have for you. Why don't you go ahead? I'm going to watch and see if you can pull it off and be obedient to those, and I'm going to see how hard you try, and I want to see you knock it out. And when it looks like you're really performing well, then I'm going to deliver and rescue you from slavery. That is not what he did, he took them right where they were, rescued them out, set his love on them, and now he said, this is how you'll best flourish moving ahead, that's what God does. The commandments are both freeing and good, and they're both comforting and confronting. We can find comfort in knowing these are the particular ways we're to live. We also know they are confronting because they challenge our hearts to see whether are we really living this way?

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:19] I hope that you will allow us, I feel like we are a church where we can be challenged. In the earlier service today, a lady said to me, she goes, wow, she said, I wasn't expecting that on Mother's Day, that's quite a bit to think on. And I said, oh, uh oh. And she said, no, no, I loved it. So I love that we're a church body willing to be challenged and willing to be encouraged while we're challenged. The last thing I would say, as far as the summary that Eric gave, is these commandments, the first four are ways that we love God, and the next six are the ways that we love our neighbor, and those are the two greatest commands, to love God and to love our neighbor. Here's specific ways to do it as God has laid it out for us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:06] So I want us to wrap around a big idea, and the idea this morning we want to wrap our heads around is ultimate devotion to God only. Ultimate devotion to God only. And I'm going to ask you, would you be willing to ask God, and will you be willing to open your heart today and receive and be challenged in a way to say, ultimately, who is your devotion towards? Where is your devotion? Is it to God only, or is it to someone or something else ultimately? This is about the ultimate question, and when we talk about it, we're talking about it in a way, if something's ultimate, we will then arrange our life around it. Whatever is central, whatever is most important, then we'll begin to build everything else around it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:56] Our ultimate devotion to God only sums up what this first command is in Exodus chapter 20, verse 3. And so I'll talk about it in a few ways, the first is this, what does this commandment say? Let's just look at it. What does it say? By the way, if you're interested in memorizing scripture, this is a great way to get a kick off in the Ten Commandments. You can have them memorized by the time we're done in mid-July, you can do one a week, this is a great start. "You shall have no other gods before me." Hopefully you'll know this one before we're done today, and you're off to a great start in hiding it in your heart. So what does it mean, you shall have no other gods before me. That word before can also be the word besides, "You shall have no other gods besides me. And remember that God has brought them out of Egyptian slavery, and they've been in the midst of a people who have a whole pantheon of gods and goddesses. And he's bringing them out, and he's saying, and he's establishing that he's the one true God. there are not any other gods. And so the outset of this command, he says, there's none other that are before me. You could also say it this way, there are no other gods in addition to me. So it can also be a both end idea. And I've wondered often in our culture today and in our Christianity, if it's kind of like God and. He is saying it's not God in addition to, he says, there's to be no other gods in my presence. There's to be no other gods in my face. That's what this means.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:39] A few weeks ago, a lady shared her story, she and her husband. And one of the things she said in her story is that when she was a teenager, they discovered that their dad had another family. There's to be no other, the husband and wife, there's not another one that gets to be a part of it. In our relationship with God, there's not another. It's not your wife, your husband, and so and so. It's not God and, it's there's no other, there's no room for others. If I use this word, I don't think people love this word today, but God is looking for an exclusive relationship with his people. He's not sharing himself with somebody else to be the one that we're devoted to, it's God and God himself, our ultimate devotion to him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:38] This commandment in verse 3, it's the pivotal commandment to the ten. It's the foundational commandment, it's the difference-making commandment, and everything flows from this one. As someone wrote, this is actually the most challenging command of the ten, if we get this one wrong, we'll get the rest of it wrong. This is pivotal, who is God, and who gets our ultimate devotion? Everything flows from it. You'll hear it said when we talk about the Ten Commandments, sometimes people will say, well, there are other moral codes. There were other people that were saying these same things before the Ten Commandments. So how is this, like original to God? What you won't find in any other moral code is the foundational first command, there's to be no other gods besides me. That's not in another ethical or moral code or command, it's in God's commands to us. It's the pivotal difference-making command.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:42] Now why would this be the first one? Again, everything flows from it. They come from a culture of multiple gods, and they need to shed that and reshift to an allegiance, a treasuring, and ultimate devotion to God Himself as the one true God. And God also knows that whatever gets our ultimate devotion, that's what we'll become like. We will become like that which is most important to us. That's another way of saying gods. What's the most important thing? What's first? And we'll start to look like it, our character will look like it, the way we behave will look like it, our life's goals will look like it, and we will start looking like it. And God knows that where joy and pleasure and purpose come from is himself. God's the only one that could say this and not be arrogant. People will accuse God of being arrogant, all he does is want me to worship him. Well, he knows that when we worship him, that's where we're in our best spot, it's what we've been designed for.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:06] In 2023, Billie Eilish, her song What Was I Made For was the song of the year. Song of the year, What Was I Made For? That gives us an idea of the cry of people's hearts today. What Was I Made For, 12 billion downloads of her song. Now, I don't know how many people are like me, but once you're on a song you like, you go after it about a million times. So maybe this is just a few people, but I don't think so. This says something about our day. What was I made for? A couple of things in the song that she says, she said, I used to know, but I'm not sure now. She used to know what she was made for, but she's not sure now. And then at the end of the song she says, I think I forgot to be happy. I don't think that's a bad descriptor of our culture today. But this first command actually answers the question of her song. What was I made for? I was made for a relationship with the living God. I was made to bring glory and honor to God. I was made to be a worshiper of God. That's the answer to the question. And we can pursue anything we want to pursue out there, and it is going to dry up every time at some point. It might start out fine, it might start out great, but anything other than God as ultimate will end up dry and empty. And we'll be singing a song, I used to know, but I don't know anymore, I think I forgot to be happy. God has designed us to be happy and joyful in him. What does this commandment say? That's what it says.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:12] What does it say about God? Let's talk about God for a minute. And if we think about ultimate devotion, where is your ultimate devotion? Is it to God himself? And what God are we speaking of? I've mentioned often that these days we have to be really careful to define what we're talking about when we use our terms anymore. A number of people have ideas of God. People think that when you say God, you're talking about a sentimental, emotional, sappy being who just kind of ebbs and flows with our emotions. Other people look at God and say, he's just a stern being, all he's trying to do is get us, rob us of our fun, zap us, and get us when we do something wrong. Some people look at God that way. Other people look at God as a God of love, but they define love the way they want to define love, and love means that God is for anything. Whatever you're for, I'm for. Whatever you're doing, I'll celebrate it as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. Which, by the way, anytime we do something against God, it's hurting a lot of people. But that's not the God we're speaking of, God makes himself known in His Word and in creation. And in His Word, we know that God is a God who's worthy, that he's a God who's excellent, a God who's beautiful, a God who's good, and a God who's true. We just sang a moment ago about the goodness of God. And I know there is just no telling how many of you, and even people on our stage that we're singing, are experiencing really hard things. And in the midst of it, though, we can still sing that God is a good God, to walk with us in the hard and in the suffering.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:02] God is a God who's knowable. He made himself known to Abraham in the book of Genesis, and in Genesis he said to him, hey, I'm going to through you, I'm going to bring out a people, and then I'm going to give you a land, and I'm going to make you a blessing to everyone else. Later he would come to Moses after the people had been in slavery for 400 years and he said, I'm going to deliver my people now; I've set my love on them, I've chosen them, and I am coming towards them. You see, God is a pursuer.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:38] In Exodus chapter 3, verses 14 and 15, Moses says, wait a minute, I'm supposed to go back to these people and say that you're about to deliver them and rescue them. I don't even know your name. What's your name? What do I tell them your name is? And in Exodus 3, "God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”. I will be who I will be. I'm the self-existent one. I'm independent of any and everybody else. I'm not dependent on anyone, I AM. You tell them that I AM has sent you? When you hear the term Yahweh, that's where it comes from, that God is, I AM.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:21] God is a pursuer. Last night Lisa and I were on a date. and we did a cooking class, and they paired us with this young couple about 30ish years old and had been married for a year. And we got to a point where we were stirring for a long time, and I wasn't very good at any of it, the chopping, the stirring, anything. And the other guy, we just kind of pulled back for a second, and I was able to hear his story. And one, he said, we're both introverts, and he said it was a relief. Not everybody's relieved when they find out I'm a pastor, this is one of those rare moments. And they're Christians, and so he just said it was a relief when you said you were a pastor to two introverts. I said, perfect. So between my wife and those two, I had three introverts in a cooking class, so we had a great time. But all the extroverts were around the table, so we were just fine. But I was talking to the guy and hearing his story, and he said, I grew up in a home where my dad was a pastor also. And he said, but I didn't come to Christ till a few years ago. And he said, for the first time when I was at a church in Houston and I heard Greg Mott speaking, he was talking about how much Jesus loved me, and he said, I never heard that before. And then he caught himself and he said, you know, it wasn't that I didn't hear it before, it's just that my dad would talk about it. But in my home, he was verbally abusive to me, and to my mom, and so I really never connected that Jesus loves me. But when I was in that church and I heard Greg Mott say it, something grabbed me and I thought, Jesus loves me, and Jesus is pursuing me. See God is a pursuer. He's a lover, and he's after you to be his. He came after his people, and he's letting them know this is who he is. He's I AM. He is a deliverer and he's a rescuer.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:23] But we also know from Scripture the characteristics of God. In Psalm 36, the psalmist says, "Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 6Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep. O LORD, You preserve man and beast. 7How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings." See people read the Old and New Testament and they say, well, God's a God of wrath in the Old Testament, and he's a God of grace and love in the New Testament. No, God is a God of abundant, loving kindness flowing through every page of the scriptures.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:03] He's also a God who's just. And he was very clear, he said, if you do this, you'll have blessing, and if you do this, you'll have curse. So when things don't go well, he said, when they're sinning against him, hey, look, this is what happens when you do that. But God is a God of abundant loving kindness, and he's waiting for us to forgive. Psalm 86:5 the psalmist said, "For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You." Imagine we have a God who's in a posture of readiness to forgive. Imagine if we're shaped like that, and that our posture is a readiness to forgive when things are done against us. That's who God is. He's a gracious God. He's a holy God. He's a pure God. He's a God that is as it said in Psalm 16:11, "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. He's the source of joy and pleasure.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:13] Well, God gives these commands, and he lays them out. And then, the people, he gives them the sacrificial system because he knew they wouldn't be able to keep the commands, so he gives them a way to have forgiveness that also points to Christ. But then they're always complaining, and they're disobedient to God. So for 40 years, they wandered in the wilderness before they then are taken into the land that God had promised hundreds of years before. They go into the land, and Joshua leads them, we spent the fall in Joshua. Joshua takes the people; they do a number of good things in the land; they don't do everything they're told to do. But in Joshua 24, at the end of it, Joshua says, hey, look, and he is talking to all the people, and he says, “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua is making a definitive statement, and he's, in essence, saying, my ultimate devotion is to God only, I'm going to lead my house that way, and we're making a stand today that we're following God. we're not following after any other gods; we're following God only. And then he says to everybody else, hey, what about you? Are you going to follow and serve God only, or are you going to follow all the gods that are surrounding us? And they say, no, we're going to follow God. And I don't think Joshua heard the positivity lesson yet or had the t-shirt on positivity. He goes, no you're not. They said, no, we're going to serve God. And he said, okay, then put away the foreign gods that you currently have and serve God only. They're sitting there with the foreign gods saying, we're going to serve God only. Alright, put them aside and incline your heart to God. And they said we will, and they obeyed. They said, we'll obey him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:26] God is worth following, he's worth being devoted to. He's devoted to us. Moms are a picture of devotion to their kids. God is the perfect picture of pursuit and devotion to those who are his. He's devoted to you, are you ultimately devoted to him? What does this command say about us? If that's who God is, and there were no other gods besides the God I just described, then what does it say about us? Well, I think the fact that he has to give us a command that says there are to be no other gods besides me in my presence, in addition to in my face. That says something about the human heart, doesn't it? That we're inclined to have other things that we put as more important than God himself. And so he makes it very clear from the outset there's not to be anything more important than God himself.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:35] One way we can picture this is in First Kings chapter 11, Solomon, who is the third King of Israel. When he became the king, he was able to ask God for anything, and he asked God for wisdom, and God gave it to him. But somewhere along the way he took his eyes off of Jesus, took his eyes off of God, the one he had written, and said, trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Somewhere he got his eyes off of him and leaned on his own wisdom. And in First Kings 11, we see that King Solomon now had 700 wives, 300 concubines, that's a thousand. I'll do the math for you. In First Kings 11, God had warned them not to associate with other nations. Now, it's not that God is opposed to cross-cultural marriages. What God is opposed to is cross-God marriages. It is devotion to God, and he knew that these foreign wives would turn his heart away from God, in addition to all the other problems that come with when you choose to have multiple wives. So verse 4, "For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been." He was not wholly devoted to God. Now it's like God and this wife's God. It's God and this wife's god. Now he has multiple gods and God. I'm sure he would still say he was following God, but it was God and. .

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:33] Jen Wilkin in her book Ten Words to Live By, talks about that both/and idea. And I think that's probably a good way to challenge our hearts today because my hunch is in this room, most people would say, yeah, my ultimate devotion is to God only. But I think what we might have to challenge our hearts today is, is it God and? Is it God in addition to? Or is God himself enough? And I'm not talking about the idea of God, God, God himself.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:19] So how can we think about this visually? There are so many options today of what our gods could be. Here are just a few to consider, and maybe God will stir others within. This is where I'm just asking you to really consider in your own heart today, who ultimately does your devotion belong to? So a few years ago, I ran into somebody who was in Africa, and they were talking about a people group that had been converted primarily to Islam. And in that conversion to Islam, they had been animists before, they worshiped spirits, and now they said they were Muslim. But this guy said the reality is they're not Muslim, they're still animists, but they have a veneer of Islam on top. I mean, they're saying they're Muslim, but that's really not who they're ultimately devoted to. And I thought, what's the American equivalent to that? And I think the American equivalent is a veneer of Christianity on top, but ultimately, we're devoted to materialism. We're about our money, and we're about our homes, and we're about our cars; we're about anything material and striving and giving our time, our money, and our skills around an ultimate devotion to materialism. That's something to consider in our hearts today. Is this what gets our most important? Do we arrange everything around this?

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:26] It could be that in the wild sports culture that we live in, that sports are actually our God, that sports are what is most important, that everything is arranged around our sports or dance or the arts or theater or whatever the extracurricular is. Gambling has just exploded over the last few years. How are many people’s lives are arranged around the games or the betting that is happening on the outcome of the game? What about kid’s sports? And remember, most everything up here is good, it's just not good when it's ultimate. And what we have to ask is if any of these things become ultimate. Just a question to consider. Thirty or forty years ago, who would have thought it was a great idea that we schedule out our kids 30 to 40 hours a week of practices and games, as opposed to. Parents may be free playing and enjoying their kids not in an organized context. Is it possible this went askew somewhere and became God? Or somehow over the last several years, sexual identity has become God in our culture. And we could run any number of routes on sex, one thought I had as I was reading Solomon and a Thousand Wives, was we would look at that one and say at least I didn't do that. Except if pornography is part of your pattern, and then you have, you've bonded yourself to people times over, men or women. Well, as my podcast friends say, we'll cover a lot of this in future episodes of The Commands. I just want to ask the question today, is it possible that some of these have become God and, or straight up God?

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:40] One of the ways that we'll know what our God is, is to look at our time, our money, and what we're putting our skills towards. What is it that gets that time, money, and skills? What do we arrange our lives around? Or is it possible that religion itself has become a god, and that God is no longer God, but religion is? Is it possible that worship has become a god to people, not so much the God of the music that we sing to him, but the worship music itself, has that become a god? Is it possible in some arenas that faith has become a god? Faith and faith, it's not faith in God, it's faith and do you have faith enough? Is it possible that the Bible itself that some people know it really well, and that's become my god rather than the God of the Bible? If you're wondering what the American flags are for, religion and politics are those two topics we're not supposed to talk about, so I just thought we'd put them together. Is it possible today that politics has become our god? That a party has become our god, that somehow, we think God has God of a party. Is this maybe elevated? Those are all things that can all be gods. It's whatever is most important in our heart at any given time, that is what is God. So this command says a lot about us, that we can easily drift into these spaces and there's so many more. In the earlier service, before I ever started. Somebody took their phone and just raised it up.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:23] This is the bottom line. I think there are actually only two choices of God today. It's either the God of the Bible, or it is self, these are just expressions of self. When we've made ourselves God and said, this thing is the most important thing instead of God himself. I was with the group the other day that was talking about Gen Z, Gen Z is 12 years old to 27, and Millennials are 28 to 43, so we're talking about both groups. But Gen Z in particular, they said, 83% of Gen Z believes that truth is relative. That means any time you talk to a 12 to 27-year-old, in general, absolute truth is not something they adhere to, it's pick and choose. It's I like this part, if we are talking about the Bible, they'd say I like that part of Jesus, but I don't really like this part. I like this part about the Word, but not this, they pick and choose. And then what the guy said that we have to be careful of is because of that thinking of 83% of Gen Z, that as a church, anytime we say something that's an absolute truth, then we're thought of as haters. So when I speak about God being an exclusive God, which, by the way, on the religion table here's something a lot has fallen into today, we've said, yes, I'm a Christian and God is my God. And my Muslim friend, I'm good with their God. And my Hindu friends, I'm good with their multiple gods, it's God plus. So it's a challenge today to communicate with a love and a care to communicate truth, in a way that expresses God rightly.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:53] Our hope would be that all of these things diminish in our lives and that they're not the ultimate thing in our lives. What does this command tell us about Jesus? All the Old Testament points us to Jesus. So what does this command tell us about Jesus? Well, Jesus says something about it in Matthew chapter 4, he's in the wilderness, he's been out there for 40 days, and He's tempted by Satan. And this is a way he responds to Satan, "For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” So worship the Lord your God and serve Him, Jesus is affirming this first and foundational command. He is saying, Satan, get out of here. I'm not worshiping anything else, no other gods. I am worshipping God and God only. Jesus will later say in Matthew 22, verses 37 through 40, that the two greatest commands are to love God with all your heart and soul and mind, and your neighbor as yourself. So a question that I would ask you is not do you believe in God? I think there's a second question that actually needs to come under the question of do you believe in God or not. Do you love God? Do you love God? When we're ultimately devoted to something, we love that something. When was the last time in your relationship with God that you just told him you loved him? It's not something he did for you; you just love God. That helps us answer the question of what my ultimate devotion is.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:53] And then Jesus would say in John 14:15, "If you love Me, you'll keep my commandments." So an expression of love for God is to be obedient to the commandments of God. He's laid out this so we could flourish and have our best with him, if you love Me, you'll keep my commandments. So Jesus affirms this command. Then ultimately, we know that Jesus himself is God. We see that all throughout Scripture. And we're actually unable to keep this foundational command apart from Christ himself. Jesus lived perfectly and kept every command perfectly. Jesus died on a cross, and he took our sin on himself, and then God raised him from the dead, satisfied with the sacrifice of Jesus. Whenever you and I come to a place of surrender and yielding to Jesus, then we receive the perfect life of Christ, and we die with Christ, so our sin is dead, and we rise with Christ, and now a walk in the power of Christ, of which we sing. The Holy Spirit of God enters into our lives when we come to that place of surrender, and actually enables us then to keep this command, to love God with all of our heart and soul and mind, to be ultimately devoted to him. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." It's an exclusive way into God through Jesus Christ himself. Where does your ultimate devotion lie? Is it in surrender to Jesus and worship of God alone?

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:20] When we're surrendered to him, then Christ becomes the center of our lives. The scripture says that the cross is considered as foolishness to many, and to those who consider the cross foolishness, they're perishing. But to those of us who are being saved, this is the power of God, Christ Jesus. He is so worth it. He's so devoted to us that he would give his life for us. I was thinking earlier how people will say, you know, how could God do this, or how could he allow this to happen, or whatever, how has he allowed bad things? It's a common question, and it's a good question. But I was thinking about that in light of the cross, and I thought, gosh, look what Jesus was willing to do for us. I think the question is not how could God do something; I think it's how could we not be ultimately devoted to a God who would love us to that depth and that level? That to me seems like the right question.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:47] A few days ago in Tennessee on the campus of the University of Tennessee, 8000 students gathered for a night of worship. There were hundreds that received Christ that night and surrendered to him, and there were hundreds that were baptized that night. This is going on all over the country on college campuses. I've said a few of them over the last few weeks, I've been reporting on them as I hear about them. Thousands are believing that Jesus is worth it and that ultimate devotion to him is worth it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:27] So how do we know? How can we sort through just in our own minds, our own heads, how this actually looks? Well, here's a question that could be helpful. What are my desires, my thoughts, my drifts, and my rhythms? Can we just ask that question? What are my desires? Is my desire for God? Like when you think about what you desire, what you look forward to, and what you're excited about, is God ever a part of that? Is he something that you desire? That will help you know your ultimate devotion. What about your thoughts? Do you find yourself at work every once in a while, thinking about God in school, wherever you are? What about when you drift off in daydream, are you ever daydreaming about God himself? Where we drift tells us something about ourselves. And what about our rhythms of time set aside to be with God alone? To be in a small group community, to gather in worship like we are right now, those are the big rocks, that indicates a love for God, and then everything else gets arranged around those times. That tells us a little bit.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:38] Jen Wilkin said it this way in her chapter, where she talked about both/and. "When we cling to God and________ we become unstable in all our ways." That's not a bad one to think about. When is it God/And? Things to wrestle with. Would you be willing this week with someone in your life group, someone that's a family member, and someone that's a friend to ask them when you see my life, what would you say I'm ultimately devoted to? And not people who will just say what you want them to say. But when they really just look at your life, what will they say? That's a way to be helpful.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:27] There are a lot of these, by the way, that are struggles for me personally, and I'm asking God to kill them every day so that these gods don't rise up. Five years ago, on this day, my family gathered at Ruth's Chris in Fort Worth. That's my mom, I showed her earlier, that's my brother, Lloyd, and other parts of our family, there's more of our family, there's more of the extended family, there's my mom and my wife. I didn't know that would be the last Mother's Day that I would have with my mom. A week later, she was in the hospital, five weeks later, she said, please don't let them keep me on these machines. Let me go! I'm ready to go be with Jesus. And we did. I so cherish that time that we had on that Mother's Day. But it's actually a glimpse of the bigger picture of the new heavens and the new earth. Because one day, I'm going to regather with my family and every person that has an ultimate devotion to God Himself, God only, and we're going to have a feast of all feasts. It will make Ruth's Chris look like, whatever. Where's your ultimate devotion? Where does it lie, and will you one day experience the feasts of all feasts with every mother, father, son, and daughter? Who Jesus said, by the way, is not who we think is our mother and father and brother and sister, it's whoever does the will of God and is ultimately devoted to him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:49:57] Father, thank you for our space to be in your Word and to consider these things. I'm grateful to be a part of the people, who are deeply loved by you and that deeply love you. I'm grateful to be a part of a people who are willing to be curious and to explore. People who are willing to be challenged and confronted and encouraged and built up. So, God, today, I pray that we would find ourselves challenged in our hearts, that we'd not let it drop here, but God, that we continue to ask you to search our hearts so that, more and more, our ultimate devotion is to you. And by your Spirit, God, I pray we'd be able to walk in that path. And, God, I pray for those who've never yielded to Jesus that this would be a day, that they say yes to you, that your love is so captivating to them, that they could do nothing but. I pray, Father, where we've steered away and made other things more important and other things god, I pray, Father, it'd be repentance today around those things. And so we thank you that you're waiting to take us on this day, right where we are and to move us forward. So I love, God, your amazing grace and kindness, towards us. And I pray, Father, that in all things in this day, that your name will be glorified and honored. And pray in Jesus' name.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
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