Tenacious Love

When you think about God’s truly awesome power and might do you ever consider the source of it. We know God is self-existent so His power does not come from any source other than Himself but how awesome is it that God’s power is Love. God is Love. I am not saying that God is just a force or power called Love. God’s inexhaustible will, to create beauty, life, peace, righteousness, and fulfillment, is expressed in what we understand as Love. God has captured my heart in all His efforts to save me and give me life. He has exercised all of His power to rescue my heart so that I could know that He loves me, and so that I could know the joy of loving others. Love is central to our existence. Look at 1 Corinthians 13.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

If you don’t have Love, all that you do have amounts to nothing. If you have knowledge of God but fail to understand that all that He is and all that He does is rooted in His inexhaustible love for you, then you are missing the riches part of Life. If you see love just as a power or force, you are missing the intentional will of the creator to have an intimate relationship with you. The scripture says in Jeremiah 31:3,

“The Lord appeared from old to me saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.”

The bible is a love letter to you, don’t sleep on it. Let your heart awake to the awesome love of God. All that Jesus suffered, He suffered to win your heart. Receive the life and sacrifice of Jesus as a testimony of God’s love for you, and just as He was resurrected, you will find your heart renewed as His loves fills it. As you grow in your understanding of God’s love, you will learn to sense His love in the warm sun on your face, and the gentle breezes which refresh you. You will also learn to sense His love in the dark ominous clouds and thunder which shakes the earth. You will learn to trust His love even in what you don’t understand, because you will embrace His promises like Jeremiah 29:11,

 “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.”

 

Through The Storm

In the early years of my journey I encountered a picture that was truly worth a thousand words, perhaps even more. In the picture, there was a great storm brewing over the sea with dark clouds swelling in the sky. It was the kind of storm that triggered the instinct to seek immediate shelter. Dwarfed in the picture was a small ship tied to a dock. The caption in the photo read, “A ship is safe in the harbor but that isn’t what it was made for.” As I peered into the picture, I began to understand the call of the storm. The call of the storm is an invitation to learn. In the midst of the darkness, the wind, and the waves, there are things to be learned about the captain, the ship, and the storm. A wise captain will avoid a storm if he can but he also needs to know what to do if a storm cannot be circumnavigated. To know of a certainty that he can navigate a storm, the captain will have to go through one. Just like the challenging circumstances that arise in our everyday life, we avoid them when we can but we also have to be ready at times to set our heading straight into the wind. Storms or challenges are often ordained of God to uncover the treasures of untapped potential buried beneath barriers of complacency. Many people will work out until they sweat but few people will actually push themselves to failure or true exhaustion. That’s why it is better to work out with someone who will push you when you are seeking greater performance. There are glorious qualities we have within us lying dormant and we are reluctant to apply the amount of pressure necessary to break through and awaken them. That is why God orchestrates circumstances beyond our control that puts us right where we have been reluctant to go. It’s about unveiling and knowing your true potential. God created us in His image and when we fulfill our true potential we bring Him glory. The best way to discover your true potential is to put yourself in God’s personal training program. In fact, if you asked Christ to save you that is exactly what you did. One of the first “witness wear” clothing items I purchased after becoming born again was a t-shirt that mimicked the old “Gold’s Gym” tees, however it read, “The Lord’s Gym” on the front and it had a pumped picture of Christ carrying a cross on His back, then on the back it read “No pain, No Gain”. I still have it though it is all tattered and worn.

We should live life to discover our true potential. This means doing things that reveal our weaknesses as well as our strengths. So many people try to stay to their strengths all the time since it is the path of least resistance. This way of living marginalize our growth because we need resistance to make us stronger. Though avoiding resistance may keep you comfortable, it also keeps your true potential unexplored which is like leaving treasure unearthed. We have to mine ourselves for the treasure hidden within. It will take a lot of digging and searching but it is the most rewarding work you will do, second only to helping others to do the same. Bringing new life into the world is always painful. Ask a mother. It reminds me of what Christ says, “We enter the kingdom through much tribulation.” The Kingdom is the place where our hearts are free and we are fulfilled.

We have to learn to live courageously! It is the only way to take the promise land of our true potential. It is important to realize that our courage does not come from trusting in ourselves but it comes from confidence in our Creator. Just like that boat in the harbor facing the storm, we have to have confidence that we were designed for the challenges of this life. We have to know that God is behind the scenes tailoring the storms, just like a trainer designing a workout specifically for us, to help us discover our true potential. The next time you find yourself in the throes of a storm, instead of insisting that God deliver you out of the storm know that God is using the storm to deliver you.

Proverb 20:13 A Warning Against Slothfulness

Proverb 20:13

“Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty;
Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.”

Do not love sleep:

The sleep here is not merely relating to slumber upon the bed but the unconsciousness brought about through over indulgence in escape: movies, sports, video games, hobbies, pleasure, eating. I understand we all need recreation but too much can make us comatose instead of merely giving us rest. There are treasures within us that need to be unearthed and time that could be spent digging is wasted in life dulling slumber. The lack of time spent mining the treasure within leads to poverty.

Lest you come to poverty:

The true riches of life cannot be purchased with silver and gold. Though some may have an abundance of this world’s wealth, their soul can be impoverished. Money definitely can assist in the journey but too often money is considered the end instead of a means to the end. Money is not always a profitable exchange for time spent, especially when it comes to time spent away from family and friends. Some jobs, though they pay a lot, may cost you more than you earn. There is a poverty that is not reflected in a bank statement but is evident in broken families, drug abuse, and the volume of pills medicine cabinet.

Open your eyes:

Though the dreamland of popular opinion and rationalizations may be less challenging than truth, it is a wasteland shrouded with darkness and yields unfulfilled living. Don’t squint your eyes in denial, open them wide and let them adjust to the light of the truth. The burden that goes with sustaining falsehoods is much heavier than sustaining truth because truth sustains itself. The truth does bring freedom.

You will be satisfied with bread:

There is a saying that all men die but few men truly live. Most people sleep their lives away avoiding challenges, conflict, and the uncomfortable. Jesus taught that we would enter the kingdom through much tribulation. In order to have a full life, we have to embrace all of life, which means the not so pleasant parts too. Let the hope of the gospel reinvigorate you to live, to face the challenges, to welcome the conflict, and to endure the uncomfortable. For all that choose to do so will be satisfied with the bread of life; righteousness, peace, joy, love, and true fulfillment.

Ephesians 5:14-16, “Therefore He says:  Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Endeavor to meet every day with the hope of receiving your daily bread just as The Lord’s Prayer indicates. God has given us abundant life through Jesus Christ. May we learn to live well by His provision through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let Love Continue

The war for your hearts goes on as callous evil strikes again,

Another assault to extinguish the hope of prevailing goodwill in men

Hearts plowed up by violence and broken to pieces by gun blast

The demonic seeds of hate and fear again have been cast

The fire of anger and lust for revenge rises up I will not pretend

Yet we must guard our hearts with the shield of faith in hope of justice that comes at the end

Sometimes freedom is exploited by darkness attempting to put all of our hearts chains

Let our hearts be filled with love instead for where the spirit of Love is there liberty remains

We must focus on the kindness and compassion that is being shown by people in great multitude

And be thankful for all that we still have, quieting despair the soberness of gratitude

We must fight evil with good, hate with love, and fight fear with our faith divine

Believing that goodwill triumphs in the end, as lovers we must never ever resign.

One Step At A Time

I have met men who believed that the right woman could cure them from lust and infidelity. I have also met women that believed if they could be all that a man wanted then he would be faithful and not desire other women. I have known men that adored their wife, cherished their children and were gainfully employed yet their wives had affairs. So what is really going on here? Plenty, but let’s keep it simple. My prognosis, these are symptoms of people out of balance. People that are out of balance stumble. Again, I am going to keep this really simple. There are many dynamics that lead to people being off center and not properly grounded. Like things from the past, anxieties about the future, as well as current circumstances. Most often the imbalance surfaces in the form of an inordinate appetite. The most common inordinate appetites are for food, sex, and leisure (escape).

The problem is that people become fixated on the appetite not realizing that the appetite is the symptom of a much deeper problem. The appetite can never be quenched through feeding it. Many people have become slaves to appetites that are bottomless. Some of the common excessive practices include whoredom, gluttony, drug abuse, excessive TV time, excessive video gaming, and pornography. Thank God that there is a simple fix. All we have to do is take up the cross of Christ daily and concentrate on walking through each day one step at a time. I said the fix was simple not easy. Though the task is not easy God gives us strength sufficient for each day and each step. Let me explain what I mean by taking up the cross of Christ. Taking up your cross daily refers to surrendering the outcome of each day to God through seeking His direction in life’s decisions versus trying to force your own outcome through your own methods. We were never meant to live independent from God. God desires to shepherd us through life.

It is impossible surrender your life unless you are assured of Gods steadfast love for you. He has already offered this assurance in the sacrifice at Calvary. Now you have to exercise your faith in His love by trusting Him with your life. Surrender. Surrender the issues of your past. Surrender the outcome of your tomorrows. Lay aside the weights that are throwing you off balance and causing you to stumble. Now pick up that cross as your balancing pole and walk through your life taking one step at a time. As the piece of God grows in your heart you will find that the bonds of the inordinate appetites have been broken and you will experience true freedom.

I am living what I am writing about. I have been out of work for several months and facing difficult financial times but my soul rest in God’s care. My ability to compose this post is evidence of God’s ability to keep me sober minded and balanced through circumstances that has ripped families apart. Here are some scriptures that are foundational to what I have been sharing. I pray that they increase your faith and empower you to liberty and peace.

Proverbs 3:19-24

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens; By His knowledge the depths were broken up, and clouds drop down the dew. My son, let them not depart from your eyes Keep sound wisdom and discretion; so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.

Psalm 37:4-6

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Luke 12:22-32

Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things[a] shall be added to you. “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Knowing The Potter

God allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery, and imprisoned for over 2 years before delivering him. When He delivered him, He exalted him to an office only second to Pharaoh. The three Hebrew boys chose to honor God at the risk of being cast into a fire pit, and instead of preventing their sentence for refusing to commit idolatry, the Lord met them in the flames before delivering them unharmed. God allowed Daniel to spend the night in a den of lions for defying a king’s ordinance forbidding him to pray; of course no harm came upon him. Given those examples and many others in the bible, what do we learn about our deliverer? There are times when God’s children have to hope and hold on to the very last to see their deliverance come. God promises that He will never leave you nor forsake you, and that He will never let you suffer beyond what you can handle. There are no formulas or methods for predicting how or exactly when God will move on your behalf. There is just the assurance that He is with you in the midst of whatever you are going through, and He is very conscience of your pain and discomfort. There is also assurance that the outcome is one that He has calculated with your very best interest at heart, and you will undoubtedly be better for it if you hold on and not turn from Him in fear, doubt, or unbelief. Notice, I did not say do not have fear, doubt, or unbelief…if it is there, it is there; just don’t let it cause you to draw back from God. Talk to your heavenly Father about your fear, your doubt or your unbelief. The key is to stay engaged with Him, and I guarantee He will give you what you need to make it another day. If you stay the course until the appointed end, you will find that the path He took you on is justified by the destination arrived at.

The Potter knows the right amount of pressure and heat needed to make vessels of glory for His purposes. We have to settle it within ourselves to endure and persevere, because Yeshua forewarned us that we enter the kingdom through much tribulation. Anything of worth comes with a cost, the greater the worth the greater the cost. I am grateful that the cost for entering the kingdom is subsidized by GOD.  We also need to realize that when we veer off course, it causes us to incur extra expense. Know that the Lord is the Good Shepherd, and His straight and narrow way is the path that cost us the least. What makes the journey almost impossible is when we do not share God’s values, and feel that the cost is not worth it. The world we live in mostly does not share God’s values, and its influence can cause uncertainty. This is exactly why Yeshua says those that would follow him have to take up their crosses daily, meaning we have to die daily to the influences of this world, so that our pursuit of Him is uninterrupted.  Be encouraged, everyone being perfected is going through something. The key word is through. There is an appointed end, and there will be feasting and joy!