Have I Told You Lately

This morning I listened to a song titled, Have I Told You Lately,” written and recorded in 1989 by Van Morrison. Wikipedia gives the following background information on the song:

Have I Told You Lately is a song written and recorded by Northern Irish singer and songwriter Van Morrison for his nineteenth studio album Avalon Sunset (1989). It is a romantic ballad that is often played at weddings, although it was originally written as a prayer.

It was released as the album’s lead single on 5 June 1989, and reached number 12 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. It has become a popular cover song with many vocal and instrumental versions recorded by numerous artists and bands [including Rod Stewart in 1993]….

Composed as a love ballad and built on the framework of Someone Like You,” it is preceded on “Avalon Sunset” by the song, “I’d Love to Write Another Song” proclaiming “In poetry I’d carve it well/ I’d even make it rhyme.” Then, in the words of Brian Hinton what follows is:

One of the finest love songs of the century, which I remember devastated me when I first heard it, as it seemed both something never quite said before, and yet a song I felt I had known forever. Earthly love transmutes into that for God, just like in Dante, ‘there’s a love that’s divine and it’s yours and it’s mine.’ The morning sun has set by the end of the song, suggesting love shading into death, but subtly. (Quote source here.)

Here is a YouTube video of the song (lyrics are listed below the video):

“Have I Told You Lately”

Have I told you lately that I love you
Have I told you there’s no one above you
Fill my heart with gladness
Take away my sadness
Ease my troubles, that’s what you do

Oh the morning sun in all its glory
Greets the day with hope and comfort too
And you fill my life with laughter
You can make it better
Ease my troubles that’s what you do

There’s a love that’s divine
And it’s yours and it’s mine
Like the sun at the end of the day
We should give thanks and pray to the One

Have I told you lately that I love you
Have I told you there’s no one above you
Fill my heart with gladness
Take away my sadness
Ease my troubles, that’s what you do

There’s a love that’s divine
And it’s yours and it’s mine
And it shines like the sun
At the end of the day we will give thanks
And pray to the One

Have I told you lately that I love you
Have I told you there’s no one above you
Fill my heart with gladness
Take away my sadness
Ease my troubles, that’s what you do

Take away my sadness
Fill my life with gladness
Ease my troubles that’s what you do
Fill my life with gladness
Take away my sadness
Ease my troubles that’s what you do.
(Lyrics: AZLyrics.com)

You don’t have to have a “significant other” in your life to appreciate the words to this song. As the Wikipedia quote above states: “Earthly love transmutes into that for God, just like in Dante, ‘there’s a love that’s divine and it’s yours and it’s mine.'” In fact, in the comments section for this song on YouTube is a comment made by a man who stated, “This song led me to look up to the skies and say, ‘God, have I told You lately that I love You.'”  (Quote source here.)

That leads to the question, What does it mean to love God?” GotQuestions.org answers that question with the following:

First, loving God requires knowing Him, and that knowledge begins with His Word. It may sound glib, but to know Him is to love Him.

To love God is to worship and praise Him. “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only'” (Luke 4:8). The book of Psalms provides many beautiful examples of how to worship and praise our Creator (e.g., Psalms 81923246799117, and 150).

To love God is to put Him first. The number-one commandment is to love God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). It’s an undivided love. God is our priority. If we love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, then we won’t allow other things to crowd in. Our love for God is manifested by loving people (Mark 12:31), but we do not love the things of the world. “Earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25). We cannot love this present world and God at the same time (1 John 2:15); love for what the world offers can lead us astray (2 Timothy 4:10).

To love God is to desire Him, to yearn for His righteousness, His Word, and His grace. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1). Once we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8), we want more of Him. If we love God, we will be like Mary of Bethany, “who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said” (Luke 10:39). If we love God, the psalmist’s description of the Word of God will resonate within us: “[it is] more precious than gold, than much pure gold; . . . sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb” (Psalm 19:10).

Suppose a man is separated from his sweetheart and receives a letter from her. His first action will be to eagerly open the letter and pore over its contents. His love for his beloved will naturally cause him to love her correspondence with him. The same is true with our love for God’s Word. Because we love the Author, we love His message to us. We read it avidly and often, we hold it close, and we hide its words in our hearts.

Finally, to love God is to obey Him. Jesus tells us, “If you love me you will obey what I command” (John 14:152315:101 John 5:3). However, this is not a matter of merely following rules and registering good deeds. It is about having God’s love written indelibly on our hearts. We naturally wish to please those we love. When we love God, we will want to please Him and obey His commands eagerly. “I delight to do your will” (Psalm 40:8). (Quote source here.)

This leads to a second question, How can I have God’s Word hidden in my heart?” GotQuestions.org give us the answer to this question, too:

The unparalleled importance and power of God’s Word in the life of those who love, honor, and obey it is the theme of Psalm 119. In verse 11, the psalmist acknowledges, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you,” stressing the purifying quality of the Word of God to keep believers from straying into sin. Outward obedience comes from having the Scriptures buried deep within our hearts like a priceless treasure.

How can we have God’s Word hidden in our hearts? Let’s start by gaining a better understanding of what the psalmist is saying. The word for “hidden” in the original Hebrew means “to treasure, to regard as highly valued, to hide, keep, save up, store.” Translations range from “I have treasured your word in my heart” (CSB), to “I have stored up your word in my heart” (ESV), to “I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart” (The Message).

God’s Word is the agent of His Spirit used to cleanse the hearts of all who believe in Christ and are saved (Ephesians 5:25–27). And it is through keeping God’s Word securely planted in our hearts and living according to what it says that believers continue to walk in holiness (Psalm 37:31119:9).

The Lord commanded Israel, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 11:18–20). This passage mentions several of the ways we can hide, treasure, and store up God’s Word in our hearts. Let’s explore these in detail.

Read

One of the first steps in hiding God’s Word in our hearts is reading the Bible. We get to know God and understand His plan for our lives through the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16Hebrews 4:12Psalm 119:105). Every Christian ought to pursue a consistent method of reading through the Bible.

Listen

Proverbs 2:1–5 conveys the benefits of listening to the Word of God: “My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. . . . Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God” (NLT).

Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” (NLT). The spoken Word of Christ—the peaching of the gospel message—has the power to produce faith and reveal Christ. In Jesus Christ’s day, Scripture was read aloud in the synagogues and recited in households. When we listen to the Scriptures, either in music or read out loud, we reinforce God’s Word in our hearts.

Write

Proverbs 7:1–3 states, “My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” Writing down our thoughts as we read and listen to the Bible will help clarify and strengthen those biblical truths in our hearts (Exodus 34:27Deuteronomy 6:68–9Habakkuk 2:2).

Talk About

Discussing God’s Word with our children, spouse, friends, and small group members will further strengthen, illuminate, and solidify its teachings in our hearts and minds (Deuteronomy 6:7).

Study

The Bible urges us to study the Scriptures for greater understanding (Acts 17:11). The apostle Paul told Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Use a study Bible and other resources to help you accurately apprehend what Scripture is saying, not superficially, but historically and in the proper context.

Meditate

The Bible also encourages us to “delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night” (Psalm 1:2, NLT). We are to think about God’s instructions and promises all day and night long (Psalm 119:97148). As we ponder God’s Word continually, treasuring, storing, and hiding it in our hearts, it will literally transform how we think and behave (Romans 12:2). (Quote source here.)

Perhaps that seems a bit daunting to accomplish but pray and ask God to show you what to do if you don’t know where to start. James 1:5-7 states, If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” So ask God for wisdom and believe that he will give it to you just as he has promised, and he will.

All of the commandments in the Law  and the prophets in the Old Testament are summarized in two primary commandments. A Pharisee asked Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” and Jesus’ response is found in this explanation provided by GotQuestions.org:

Jesus was asked this very question by a Pharisee who was considered to be “an expert in the law” (Matthew 22:34–36). Jesus answered by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37–40).

Jesus gives us two commandments that summarize all the laws and commands in Scripture. The Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 deal with our relationship with God and then our relationship with other people. One naturally flows out of the other. Without a right relationship with God, our relationships with others will not be right, either. The cause of the world’s problems is that man needs to be reconciled to God. We will never love our neighbor as ourselves if we do not first love God with all our heart, mind, and soul. All of man’s best efforts toward world peace will fail as long as men are living in rebellion against God.

When asked by another Pharisee how one could “inherit eternal life,” Jesus answered that it is by keeping these two commandments (Luke 10:25–37). Only two commandments to obey, yet how often do we, like this Pharisee, try to “justify” ourselves because saying we obey these commandments is much easier than really living according to them.

When carefully considered, Jesus’ answer was really a perfect response not only to the Pharisee of His day, but also to all modern-day “Pharisees” who try measure a person’s righteousness by how well he conforms outwardly to a series of laws or commandments. Both the Pharisees of Christ’s day and today’s many versions create a whole system of rules and regulations for people to live by and yet are guilty of breaking the most important commandments of all because they “cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but not the inside” (Matthew 23:25–26).

When we prayerfully consider Jesus’ words and the fact that all the laws and commands in Scripture can really be summarized by these two commandments, we understand just how impossible it is for us to keep God’s commandments and how often we fail to do so and can therefore never be righteous before God on our own accord. That only leaves us with one hope, and that is that God “justifies the ungodly” (Romans 4:5). God’s law and our failure to keep it “brings about wrath” (Romans 4:15), but “God demonstrates His own love toward us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

While we will never keep God’s commandments or be righteous before Him by our own efforts, Christ did. It is His sacrificial death on the cross that causes our sins to be imputed to Him and His righteousness imputed to us (Romans 4—5). That is why “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9–10). After all, the gospel of Christ “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes,” for “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16–17).

Because Jesus answered this very question and His answer is recorded in Scripture, we don’t have to wonder or search for the answer ourselves. The only question left for us to answer is do we live according to these commandments? Do we truly love God with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our minds, and do we really love our neighbor as ourselves? If we are truthful with ourselves, we know that we do not, but the good news is that the law and commandments were given as “a tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). Only as we realize our sinfulness and hopelessness will we turn to Christ alone as the only hope of salvation.

As Christians, we strive to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and as our hearts and minds are transformed by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit we are able to begin to love others as ourselves. Yet we still fail to do so, which again drives us back to the cross of Christ and the hope of salvation that stems from the imputed righteousness of Christ and not from any merit of our own. (Quote source here.)

I’ll end this post with the words Jesus said to the Pharisee who wanted to know the greatest commandment. In Matthew 22:37–40, Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.” So, remember to…

Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind . . .

And love your neighbor . . .

As yourself . . . .

YouTube Video: “Love God Love People” by Danny Gokey:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here