Satisfying The Soul

The greatest gift you can receive from God is simply His love, via an intimate relationship. God can shower us with miracles and provisions for living but none of these things alone can satisfy the truest craving of our heart. The truest craving of our heart is to know God intimately, to love Him and be loved by Him. Many, many, people have occupied themselves with trying to quench the desire of their heart with all sorts of pleasures and curiosities only to discover that the disquieting desire still beckons. A heart beckoning for the love of God will not give you rest. Like an icy draft from a deep place in your soul keeping you from getting comfortably warm. You are constantly trying to find things to throw on your fire to stay warm however the flames never remain intense enough to give you sustained comfort. In fact, some of the things people seek to build their fire take them so far from the flames that they become cold and hardened. The bible has depicted the Holy Spirit as descending like fire upon the church. I find this depiction of the Holy Spirit very suitable to Her work (don’t be alarmed that I have referred to the Holy Spirit in a feminine tense, remember mankind collectively both male and female reflect God’s image). The Holy Spirit ascends like fire to spread the love of God abroad in our hearts.

God’s love for us is a very fervent love that warms us to our core when we truly receive it. I say truly receive because many people confess that they have received His love however they are not at rest. They are still burdened with hunger and thirst of the soul. In the gospels, Jesus talked about giving special water that would end thirst and special bread that actually gave life. When your relationship with God is healthy  there is a completeness that you abide in that gives your soul rest and comfort. You will find people who have truly received the love of God seem really comfortable in their skin. The comfort I speak of is not one seated in pride or self-assurance but one seated in a tangible awareness of God’s providential love. The Holy Spirit is referred to as the comforter. The Holy Spirit comforts us in many ways. One major way is through leading and guiding us into all truth. This  truth includes the reality of God’s loves for us. The reality of God’s love transcends many of our worldly notions of love. Until we are open to hear from the Holy Spirit on the realities of life and love our deep cravings will remain. On the other hand, if we are willing to empty ourselves of our worldly notions and contrived philosophies of life, then God can satisfy our souls exceedingly and abundantly beyond all expectation. The love of God will usher in a trust that frees you to surrender all that you might TRULY receive everything.

In the old testament of the bible, there is an account of the battle between the prophets of a false god and Elijah the prophet of the true God. The battle was to see which prophets represented the one true God. The prophet that could provoke their God to send fire from heaven to ignite a fire on earth was to be the true prophet representing the one true God. Elijah prevailed as the winner of the challenge because he represented the true God. Only the true and living God can send fire from heaven. May God ignite in your soul with fire from heaven that brings eternal comfort and rest through the knowledge of His love.

Be Of Good Courage

It is natural to experience disappointment when our hopes are crushed. Even when we have understood all along from past experience that it was likely we would be let down. The next thing we realize is that our hearts are heavy and our joy is diminished. This is why the word of God instructs us in Proverbs 4:23 to guard our hearts with all diligence.

“Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.”

One of the key ways to guard our hearts is to be careful when placing hope. I Corinthians 15:19 says,

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

If our hope does not extend beyond the physical life that we now live then it is guaranteed that we will be miserable in life because some prayers and hopes will be fulfilled on the other side. Herein is the patience of the saints of God. It reminds me of the two Disciples of Christ that were walking down the road away from Jerusalem where their hopes had been crushed by the governing bodies of their day which had just wrongfully crucified Jesus. The two disciples had hoped that the man who was killed would be the one to redeem Israel. When the man was crucified, so were their hopes for the redemption of Israel. While still traveling away from Jerusalem the two disciples were reproved by the resurrected redeemer Jesus Christ for not trusting in what the scriptures had promised regardless of how things appeared. This account is recorded in Luke 24.

In this life we will witness great evil and injustice but we can’t allow it to steal our hopes that in the very end of this age God will set all things right. We must shield our hearts with this hope that our joy might remain full and we don’t become sad and down cast like the two disciples leaving Jerusalem.  It is the plan of Satan to overthrow your hope with evil to the end that your hearts become hardened and you lose faith in God’s sovereignty. When we doubt God’s sovereignty we are apt to take things into our own hands and Satan knows that produces death. We guard our hearts to keep seeds of doubt, unbelief, fear, hate and other evils from being sown into it. Let the words in John 16:33 as spoken by Jesus before His crucifixion always strengthen you.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Wait On The Lord

Can you soundly say of the Creator that set the seasons in their time, and the moon phases in its time, day and night in their time, and even gestation in its time that His timing is off pertaining to circumstances in your life? How can we not trust God’s timing? I declare that I trust God’s timing in every area of my life for His timing is perfect and His timing sustains my life.

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart: wait I say, on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

As we wait on the Lord for change to come into our lives we must still live. The charge to be of good courage speaks to this. As we go through trials and tribulations and wait on our deliverance we must still live. We must rise and eat and we must feed others. We must maintain. If we can’t move the line forward, we should still do all we can to ensure that we don’t lose the ground we have won. We must learn how to be strong in the power of HIS might. We must draw strength from our confidence in God’s universal sovereignty and omnipotence in order to stand. As you stand, the Lord will encourage you and when the expectation is fulfilled you will be assured of His love. You will see that your hope was not in vain and that the Lord heard the prayers. Your heart will be strengthened. Your faith will increase. Your testimony will be established unto the Glory of God!

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when the desire comes it is a tree of life”

(Proverb 13:12)

Wait I say on the Lord.

Freedom without Liberty

I have found often what the world promotes as freedom tends to bondage. For instance, most people consider freedom the ability of an individual to do whatever he or she wants. If you take a closer look at that you will find that it is very limiting. An individual can only experience or realize what they know of or what they are aware of. That’s like someone giving you a pair of roller skates and telling you that you are free to explore the world. Another example is like giving you an airplane and telling you to go see the world with no manual or pilot training. Your freedom does not extend beyond your knowledge because you cannot enter, fully experience or partake of that which you are ignorant of and don’t understand. In order to become free you have to be educated and empowered. Our Heavenly Father has given us examples to consider for coming to a true understanding of life and the universe He has created. Consider raising a child. When are children able to be free by the world’s definition?…Not at birth, a new-born would die on its own…Not as a toddler nor for that matter as an adolescent. In fact if we equate freedom with independence then we are never really free because we are all dependent on each other. Only God is self-existent! Let that marinate. We are not even free to know what freedom is until we are taught. The devil, the great deceiver, is still up to his tricks.

The wicked forces of this world have deceived people into believing that they are free by empowering them to indulge the appetites of their flesh without restraint. Freedom is sold as having all the food you want, all the sex you want, all the libations you want, all the material things you can gather and so on. This does not lead to freedom; it leads to addiction which is essentially bondage. I know I am throwing lint on some lollipops but many of us have been suckers for too long. How free is the obese person to enjoy an active life style? How free is the sex addict to enjoy the benefits of a committed relationship? How free is the drug addict to enjoy a stable life? How free is the materialistic person to enjoy lasting contentment? In fact, the easiest person to control is the one given to their appetites? This definition of freedom is extremely visible in the mind-set of American citizens. Many Americans I encounter consider even the practice of healthy restraint an infraction of their freedom. Try talking to a smoker about quitting or smoke free public environments. Trying talking to an overweight person about their food selections or portion control. Try talking to a gay rights advocate about the sustainability of the human race. Every individual has to exercise some restraint or freedom deteriorates collectively as well as individually.

Everyone with a valid driver’s license can seem to understand the importance of traffic laws like speed limits, stop signs, yield signs, and traffic signals. All traffic laws are intended to keep us safe on the roads. What if when driving, in the name of freedom and individual rights, we all decided to disregard traffic laws along with every other person on the road and just did our own thing.  It would be catastrophic. It is easy to see the relationship between how we drive on the roads and its impact on others on the roads but it takes a little more consideration to understand the impact of how we live our lives in relation to others in our community and the world around us. You don’t live your life based on traffic law but you do live your life based on moral law that is unless you are an immoral person. We exercise restraint on ourselves through our own morality and values. Restraint is exercised on the general public through law enforcement. Any mature adult can see the importance of laws. The problem occurs when laws conflict with our appetites and desires. Who is qualified to tell us what we can and cannot have or what we need and do not need or what we can and cannot do? Governments all over the world have proven themselves to be unqualified to handle this task, including the USA. In America we have a history of employing the policy of ignorance for control and restricting empowerment to certain races and classes of people. As I said earlier, for freedom to be realized it has to be combined with education and empowerment. The governments of this world can support our freedom but they cannot secure our freedom.

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

This is a reference to Lucifer and his hordes.

Ephesians 4:8 says, “Therefore He says: When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”

John 8:36 says, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

John 8:31-32 says, “And Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Jesus has won our freedom by triumphing over the powers of spiritual wickedness. As I stated earlier, your freedom only extends as far as your knowledge, so Satan’s plan was to keep us in darkness, ignorant of the truth but Jesus came as a bright shining light and exposed the devil as well as opened our eyes to the truths that make us free. The life of Jesus is an example to follow.

1 Peter 4:1-3 says, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.

Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”

The only way we truly become free as a people or nation is by submitting our will to the Lord. I know this is counter-intuitive but it is written in Luke 9:23-25;

“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”

The Lord is the only one qualified to govern our lives because He alone created our lives. I am not advocating an anti-government mentality. I am advocating that we do all we can to ensure first that our individual morality and values reflect those of the Lord and secondly that our governing bodies reflect the same. It is only then that every person will be in a position to experience true freedom.

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.