Who Loves Ya Baby?

The famous words of Kojak! I know I am telling my age with that one. You youngsters will need to Google it. The question is valid though. We need to know who really loves us. I say “really” because everything called love is not necessarily so. It is also important that the love we give is “really” love and that the recipients acknowledge that. In relationships where there is mutual faith in the love shared, that relationship forms a bond which  becomes an enduring pillar of support and a rich source of esteem. This already challenging life is considerably tougher for those who feel they don’t share this love relationship with anyone and feel alone. By alone, I am referring to being in a place where no one is really interested in your voice, your personal feelings. I am also referring to a place where there is no one other than yourself that believes in your heart, and in spite of your mistakes believe that your intent is good. Unless you are narcissistic, without the affirmation of people that love you, you can begin to doubt yourself. One would think that this kind of love is a given in family, however having blood relatives does not guarantee this bond of love. It follows that having blood relatives does not guarantee that you will not feel alone. Before going any further, let me qualify what I mean by love.

When I speak of love I am referring to the love that comes from God. The bible teaches that God is love. So the love I am referring to comes from a divine source. Have you ever heard someone say they didn’t know how poor they were until they saw how the rich lived? Love is the same way. What most people consider love is poor in comparison to the real love of God. I Corinthians 13 give us a glimpse at real love:

 “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 easily 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.”

This love is not innate to our physical nature. We surely have some strong feelings generated from our physical being but they fall short of the wholeness comprised in divine love or real love. The big three feelings that dominate physical man are fear, lust, and pride.  These big three, though at times mimic love, are actually contrary to love. Fear comes from dread instead of hope. Lust is rooted in “taking” instead of “giving”. Pride is centered in concern for self instead of concern for the well being of all. Of the big three, PRIDE is the strongest and most dominant. Because the big three are natural to us, it takes the intervention of the supernatural to free us from the domination of them. The spirit of God in conjunction with our conscience convicts us to makes us aware of behavior that is detrimental to us and those around us. These are the actions produced by the influence of the big three. If we are sensitive to the conviction we can turn to God for help and He can begin the work of breaking the power of the big three which frees us from the behavior causing harm.  If we choose to override the conviction, this has a dulling affect on our sensitivity to harmful behavior and we become callous.  We never want to become insensitive to those around us because it can lead to us becoming detached from the reality of our actions. That is how people become beastly and demonic. Pride is the power of wicked behavior because it refuses to acknowledge fault and thereby blocks repentance. It is pride that fights the hardest against the reality that we need salvation from God. Most people readily acknowledge that we need the help of others but the pride of natural man will often fight the reality that we are helplessly wicked without God. So God orchestrates the fall of the prideful to humble places for an opportunity to be freed from the blindness of pride. God is so good, working in all things to bring us to freedom and fulfillment.  Those who grow weary of the tyranny of the big three and answer the call of God to repentance receive deliverance. Only those delivered by God are free to love. The big three will not allow a man the liberty to fulfill the requisites of love. This is what God proved through the Law of Moses. As hard as a man may try, he will always fall short of keeping the commandments of Love in his own strength.

Jesus says let the rich say they are poor and let the poor say they are rich. In other words, let those who think they have something to offer outside of the goodness that comes from God acknowledge that they have nothing, and those who realize they are bankrupt of their own goodness acknowledge that they are made rich by God’s goodness . Even though they may still have faults, their pursuit of God and commitment to grow is evident through their repentance. If you acknowledge your poverty then God has opportunity to make you rich, but if you say you are rich when you know you don’t have the goods then you will remain poor. I am definitely on God’s well fare. He gives me my bread daily. I don’t have anything but what He gives me. Every day that I awake I ask God to make a deposit into my heart so that I will have something to spend, if not, I will go about creating debts. Some days I create debts anyway but I am thankful for God and those that love like Him who know how to forgive us our debts. We need people in our lives that are rich with God’s love and we need to be one of those people enriching the lives of other with His love.

Advertisements

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.

The Two Covenants of God

We cannot have a relationship with God without a covenant. God is holy and requires a covenant for intimacy with Him. The word “intimacy” may seem strange in context with God however He refers to the church very often as His bride. God desires to make us His Tabernacle and dwell inside us. That’s pretty intimate.  The covenant of marriage between a man and a woman has been established by God to reflect His relation with the church. People today enter intimate relationships all the time without a covenant and it is considered by God unholy and wicked. To enter an intimate relationship with God we have to enter covenant with Him. The bible teaches us that God loves order and peace and a covenant is a way to avoid confusion and to affirm commitment. We don’t determine the conditions of the covenant. The conditions have already been laid out by God. All the terms and conditions are spelled out in the volumes of the Holy Bible. There have been two main covenants during the history of the world that govern God’s relationship with man. They are the Abrahamic covenant and the Mosaic covenant. The condition for not having a covenant or not fulfilling the covenants of God is condemnation to death and separation from God. Jesus Christ came to earth and fulfilled the requirements of the Mosaic covenant since it was impossible for man to do it. Jesus also made provision for us to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant so that we could enter the promises rewarded by God to all that fulfilled the covenant. The Mosaic covenant was made with the children of Israel at Mount Sinai which included following, to the letter, a long list of rules and ordinances. The bible tells us plainly that the Mosaic covenant was instituted because men were wicked and obstinate after the disobedience of Adam. After Adam was compromised in the Garden man inherited a slant toward rebellion and selfishness that created an incongruity between man and God. This incongruity caused the mind of man to be alienated from the mind of God thus creating a condition where no long term relationship could be maintained without provocation. The selfish and rebellious nature, now dominant in man, would always surface and pull man away from the ways of God into immorality.  The Mosaic Law was a list of ordinances that laid out conditions for a rudimentary relationship with God which entailed the bare minimum of what God’s holiness could endure. Even at this base level man could not keep even the lowest tenants of God’s moral law in order to fulfill the Mosaic covenant. Therefore in the Mosaic Covenant every man was condemned to death and separation from God.

Fortunately the Mosaic Covenant did not disannul the Abrahamic Covenant which was 430 years before the Mosaic Covenant. Under the Abrahamic Covenant God promised that the children of Abraham would be as plentiful as the stars in heaven and would be justified by God through their faith and trust in Him just as Abraham had faith and trusted in God. God promised that these blessed descendants would come from the union of Abraham and Sarah his wife. Abraham being imperfect gave into the pleading of Sarah his wife who doubted the promise of God and compelled Abraham to give her a son from her bondmaid Hagar. From the union of Abraham and Hagar came Ishmael. Later, just as God promised, Sarah gave birth to the son of the covenant, Isaac. Ishmael and Isaac symbolize the two covenants of God. Ishmael being born out of doubt from Hagar in bondage symbolizes the Mosaic covenant. Isaac, born out of faith to Sarah the free woman symbolizes the Abrahamic covenant. The lineage of Jesus Christ through Joseph can be traced all the way back to Isaac the child of promise so that man would know that Jesus Christ is the door way to the covenant of Abraham which provides for justification through faith.

Though God has provided salvation through the Abrahamic covenant in Jesus Christ, Jews reject Jesus as the Savior promised through scripture. The Jews lack of faith in Jesus Christ leaves them condemned under Mosaic Law. Those who have faith in Jesus Christ are considered by God to have fulfilled both covenants. The sacrificed life of Jesus fulfills the conditions of the Mosaic covenant and the faith in Jesus fulfills the conditions of the Abrahamic covenant.

How does faith in Jesus enable wicked man to have a lasting relationship with God? Man finally convinced of his wickedness through being unable to keep the lowest of God’s moral law cries out to God and surrenders his attempts to self govern his own life. He accepts the love offering of Jesus Christ and shows this by taking up the cross of Christ every day in surrender of his life, trusting and having faith that regardless of how things may appear, he has been accepted into the family of God and with every day that he lives his Father God is saving him through a transformation of his life. Redeemed man believes that the Jesus, the Lamb of God, gives him access to God the father enabling him to know God intimately. This intimacy with God will allow man through the power of a born again spirit to understand the perfect intent of the law even the mind of God so that man can live righteously and holy. The Mosaic Law was never intended to do this nor could it. Taken from the Commentary Critical and Explanatory of the Whole Bible this quote expresses what I am saying very well, “No literal precepts could fully comprehend the wide range of holiness which LOVE, the work of the Holy Spirit, under the Gospel, suggests to the believer’s heart instinctively from the word understood in its deep spirituality.” This quote speaks of the excellency of the spirit through Christ and the Holy Spirit in the administration of the Abrahamic Covenant also called the New Covenant in comparison to the administration of the law under Mosaic Covenant.

There are those that believe that the law under the Mosaic covenant, even after being shown to be inferior to life in the spirit, still has a place under the administration of the Abrahamic Covenant. This influence comes from the promotion of Judaism by Jews who have not embraced the fullness of the grace provided through the Savior Jesus Christ. As it was in the days of the early church, so is it today. We see this in the obstinate minds of the Scribes and Pharisees as they tried to condemn the spirituality of Jesus Christ by accusing His actions that appeared to them to violate the Mosaic Law. We also see this conflict between the liberty of the spirit and the bondage of Mosaic Law in the ministry of the apostles after the ascension of Jesus.  Jesus taught that ALL the law and the prophets hung on LOVE as in Matthew 22:34-40,

“But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.  Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ’On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Paul was trying to reinforce the same truth to the Galatians after he found that they had been persuaded to take up the Mosaic Law by those in his day promoting Judaism in a confusing mix with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We see this in Galatians 5:1-6,

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.  Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”

This is huge. You who are attempting to keep Mosaic Law remember that you are a debtor to do it ALL. If you ascribe any merit to your standing with God due to your being circumcised, abstaining from meats, or observance of a day, then Christ is of no profit to you.  Paul says, you frustrate the grace given you by Christ. A little leaven ruins the whole loaf.

Here is a list of chapters out of the bible that deal specifically with the subject I have posted here. Put on your spiritual ears and hear the message of liberty and holiness that the spirit is teaching through these texts.

2 Corinthians 3

The Book of Galatians

Romans chapter 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8

1 John chapter 4

Genesis  chapter 15, 16, 17, and 18

I am including a link to the site where you can read all of these texts. The link is to Bible Gateway one of my favorite sites on the web.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/

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.

Unconditional Love

I recently searched for the word “unconditional” in several versions of the Holy Bible and you know what…I couldn’t find it. So, where does a person get the idea that God’s love is unconditional? My guess is the same place as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. I realize that this is a bubble buster for some readers but it shouldn’t be. Think for a minute, have you ever seen anything last that had no order, system, guidelines, or rhythm. I think not. Anything sustainable has to have order. Specific conditions are implicit to order. Love is realized through relationship. A condition of relationship is communication. Communication requires certain conditions to be effective. So where am I going with this. The flesh loathes the restraint required by conditions and will resist it even to its own hurt. So let me encourage you to read this to completion even though your flesh may already be rejecting it. The thought of unconditional love soothes the flesh. Unconditional love removes any consequences from our actions in relationship to God’s acceptance and approval. Where there are no consequences there is no need for restraint and this makes the flesh happy. Though the absence of restraint pleases the flesh it really grieves the spirit. The spirit loves order and judgment. The flesh and the spirit are opposed.

Galatians 5:16 says, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”

Love is of the spirit because God is love and He is spirit.

John 4:22-24 reads, “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

These are all conditions for having a relationship with God. God is seeking those who don’t have issues with restraint.

Here is what Jesus informed everyone in Luke 9:23, “And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

The cross is where our flesh meets the conditions of God. The desire for unconditional love is the flesh trying to circumvent the cross. I am not saying that God withholds love from us until we meet His conditions. Gods knows unless He gives us the seeds of love in the first place we want have anything to offer back to him. God is a just God and it would not be just of Him to require something of us that He has not made sure we have the means to fulfill. It is because God has given us abundant love that He requires love of us, unto Him and our fellowman. The idea of unconditional love implies that God expects nothing of us and this is not true.

John 15:12 says, “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

God requires us to love, and not just in any old way we choose but He requires us to love even as He has loved. Unconditional love is love without standards and without standards there is no assurance of reliability. In order for us to have the abundant life that Jesus promised we have to follow His recipe.

Wallowing In The Mire

Politics is a nasty business. I am somewhat surprised at the number of confessing Christians willing to wade into the mire and promote men who are compromised to their core. When was the last time you heard any politician speak in absolutes regarding their beliefs according to the faith they profess? There is a website called “godvoter.org” which polls presidential candidates on their religious beliefs, then based on the candidates responses they issue them a grade. Obama received a “D-”. Romney received an “F”. Point is…they are politicians. I am not saying that Christians should not vote. I am saying we should embrace the opportunity we are afforded in casting private ballots and stay away from activities that could cause that holy name that we represent to be evil spoken of. Some things should stay behind the veil so to speak. Our mission as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God should come before promoting our own personal political views which can be divisive. Preach the gospel and let people vote their conscience in private. I hear some believers say that God puts people in power for His purposes and they pray let His will be done. If you are one to ascribe to this line of thinking then you should not run down whoever ends up elected. Much like David refused to dishonor King Saul though he did evil things. Ultimately the will of our King will be carried out. The soldiers of the Lord have no business getting entangled in the wars and rumors of wars and all the other shenanigans of this waning age. There are more pressing battles that we need to take the fight to. The governments of this world are on a fixed path and they have their own priorities. For instance, the enterprise of sexual trafficking has kept human slavery very much alive in the 21st century and America is the leading “John” in this horrific travesty of human rights. Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport is the busiest hub in the nation for the import and export of sexual slaves. America leads the world in activities related to the exploitation of children as related to child pornography. Where are these issues on the list of priorities for our current candidates? I have watched all the major debates with the exception of the last presidential debate and I don’t recall these major issues getting any attention.

I just want to caution my Christian brothers and sisters to beware of being swept into a majority religious culture that has developed its own sense of values and approval separate from that of the living God. This may seem farfetched but remember it was the religious community that gave Jesus Christ his greatest opposition during His ministry as the son of man on earth. I am not persuaded that things have changed much. The disciples of Jesus often contended with Him as He displayed His priority for the dejected and cast asides of that day. They also cautioned Him for being too revolutionary. The Word of God is always revolutionary to the carnal, to those who have been lulled asleep and seduced by the deceptive peace and dulling comforts of this world. You will never get a majority vote and be popular or well liked in this world standing with Jesus. In fact Jesus said in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you.” As one of my favorite songs from Hosanna Music goes,

“Don’t grow weary doing well; don’t surrender in the fight,”

“Keep on storming the gates of hell; keep on doing what you know is right,”

“Keep on praying in spirit, keep on walking in the light,”

“Don’t be fearful, or discouraged keep on doing what you know is right,”

This song was entitled “Don’t grow weary” off the CD release “In Christ Alone”. The title cut “In Christ Alone,” says,

“In Christ alone, I place my trust and find my glory in the power of the cross,”

“In every victory, let it be said of me,”

“My source of strength, my source of hope, is Christ alone.”

Let us be clear about where our allegiance lies and who we look to for the well-being of the world. Read 2 Peter chapter 2 of the bible to get the full context of the expression “Wallowing in the mire”.