Who You Gone Call?

Most friends and acquaintances prefer to be around us when we are celebrating or have good news to share and that is understandable. I find it extremely comforting though to know that the Almighty desires to be around us MOST when we are hurting and discouraged. When we are AT our worse or IN our worse, most people we know would probably prefer we go (like someplace other than where they are) somewhere and get ourselves together or hurry up and get over it.  We may have a rare friend that wants to stay near and listen, empathize and support, but even they have their moments when they have issues of their own and just don’t have the strength to support us and deal effectively with their own circumstances. However, The Wonderful Counselor, as He is also called, inexhaustibly calls us near to take our burdens and to give us joy and peace. Isn’t that uplifting to know! The question is, do we take advantage of that? When we are going through something, do we go to our quiet place and call upon His name? Do we open up our bibles and search for the Bread of Life? Or…..Do we turn to our relationships and look for a person to console us? Do we throw comfort food at our appetites that seem to invigorate during times of duress? Do we escape reality altogether with a movie or some other form of fiction?  It is natural to do all those things but we have to cultivate a habit of going to God first. Instead of the quick and temporary gratification natural remedies offer, God restores us and in process spiritually vaccinate us from future injurious effects of what ever was ailing us. We become stronger. He is calling us to do this. He is calling you when you are burdened and heavy laden and when you have a broken spirit and contrite heart. He welcomes us to come as we are but He has not intentions of leaving us that way. The Lord will renew your strength and you will feel as if you could soar as if you had wings life the eagles.This experience is not a mere high but a deliverance that elevates your life, bringing you to another level of freedom. Don’t misunderstand me, friends and loved ones are a definite blessing but there is one that sticks closer than any other and He truly is the Prince of Peace and He should be our first love in every way.

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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.

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.

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.

True Intimacy

Intimacy is derived from unity. You could say the building blocks for intimacy are made from unity. The more unity there is, the deeper the intimacy will be. To build intimacy, you first have to build unity. Pride and selfishness are the biggest enemies to unity, therefore they are the biggest enemies to intimacy. Spiritual unity produces the deepest and most fulfilling intimacy.

Psalms 51 from the bible basically says men are formed and conceived in iniquity. This refers to the sin nature that all men inherited from Adam’s compromise in the garden. Pride and selfishness make up the sin nature. Unless a person is born again, they are bound to this sin nature. The prideful and selfish orientation of the unregenerate keeps them captive from the humble and sacrificial ways that lead to spiritual unity. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the unregenerate to experience the deepest and most fulfilling form of intimacy. As a man trying to fly by leaping from the ground yet being overcome by gravity, so it is with those who have not been born again that attempt to live spiritually united, yet are repeatedly overcome by the divisive nature of sin.

Only love can break the power of sin. God is love and we must be born of God if we are to experience true unity and true intimacy. A prerequisite for experiencing true intimacy in any relationship is surrendering to the love of God. Many people have been deceived into believing that they receive the love of God and that they love God in return. To the degree that you trust and believe in God, that is the same degree that you receive his love. To the degree that you obey his commands or walk in His spirit, to that same degree you love him. How can you receive love from someone you do not trust? You can’t. How can you love someone while intentionally doing things they hate and despise? You can’t. We don’t grow until we are willing to face and accept the facts of life and become responsible and accountable.

The first true love is the love of the truth. The love of the truth is what unifies and binds us together because there is only one truth. The singularity of the truth is what unites us. Doctrines that support the belief that everyone has their own truth is a ploy from the powers of darkness to keep us divided and unfulfilled. God’s plan for us is not that we merely coexist but that we become one in love through truth. As we humbly except the truth of God, we become of one mind and one heart and one spirit. As we become one, we experience intimacy. Yeshua is the Word and the Word is truth. When we surrender our prideful self-life in exchange for the life that is in Yeshua, we gain the ability to fulfill the humble and unselfish prerequisites of true unity. The reward is blissful intimacy with God and with those who are born of His spirit.