The Lover and the Loved

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27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live! — Luke 10:27, 28 NLT

In any love relationship, there is the lover and the loved.  For the relationship to work, each participant must be both at all times.  You can’t choose to just be the lover today and the loved tomorrow.  That would never work, because the flesh would want to be only the loved everyday. Being the loved is easy, being the lover can be hard work. This is true in human relationships and it is true in our relationship with God.  He loved us first and He loves us more than we can love Him, but He still wants and desires all the love we can give Him.  He desires to spend time with us alone, just the two of us.  God, as our lover, sent us His Son as a gift, the greatest gift ever given by any lover to His beloved.  He also gave us a book containing many love letters, statements of His love for us and reminding us of the many things He has done to show His love for us.  In that book, He assures us that He will always be with us and never forsake us.  In a true, legitimate love relationship, when one party says to the other “I love you”, that requires a positive response from the other party, namely, “I love you, too.”
Have you ever just said “I love you, Lord”  for no other reason than the fact that you love Him and not because of something special He did for you?  Is he the last person on your mind before you go to sleep and is He the first person you speak to when you wake up?   Just try it in the morning.  Before your feet hit the floor, just say “I love You, Lord, I love You, Father, I love You, Holy Spirit, I love you, God.”   He will always respond with a gift of peace and joy.  He can’t help Himself, He will do it just because He is God and God is love.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 10-10-2018

Oil to Keep Our Lamps Burning

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1 The Lord said to Moses, “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually. — Leviticus 24:1 NLT

Consider the olive.  The tree grows in stony soil where other trees cannot grow.  A new tree is started with a seed or a cutting and then transplanted.  It grows for seven years before it has any berries on it and it is about fourteen years before the crop reaches maturity.  In Old Testament times, the fruit was harvested by shaking and beating the tree with a reed or a stick.  This injures the tree so much that it will only produce fruit every other year.  Once it starts to produce fruit, it will continue to produce fruit for centuries.  After the fruit is harvested, it is pressed to get the oil from it.  This oil was then used to keep the light in the Tabernacle lamps burning continually.  Jesus said that we are now the light of the world.  For us to be the pure light that we should be, we must go through much of the same process as the olive.  God transplants us from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light  and we start on a journey.  It will take some time for us to mature and produce fruit. We need to be shaken at times to get us out of our comfort zones.  We need to be disciplined at times to get us back on the straight and narrow path.  We have sinful, fleshly desires and those desires are not going to go away without a fight.  So, God allows us to be pressed down until there is nothing left but a heart with pure motives.  Then and only then are we able to be the light to the world and deliver it from the darkness of sin.

8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.– 2 Cor. 4:8-10 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 10-09-2018

“Whiter Than Snow”

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so that he can live the rest of his mortal life guided, not by human desires, but by the will of God.– 1 Peter 4:2 ISV
 
 
We may look at the list of things that pagans choose to do and with great relief, say “I never gave in to any of those things.”.  But let’s take another look.  A synonym for debauchery is decadence which is defined as excessive self-indulgence. How much time and money do we spend on thngs that benefit no one but ourselves?  At what point do our “needs” actually become only our “wants”?   Then there is lust, usually taken in the sexual connotation, but let’s spread that out a little further.  How about the desire to control and to have a high position?  Or the desire for things? And then there is that ugly word, idolatry.  No statues or figurines in the house? How about things that we spend inordinate amounts of time and money trying to acquire?  How about persons on whom we spend inordinate amounts of time and money trying to please and/or appease?  How about things and events that we spend way, way too much time talking about?  If there is anything or any person in our lives that we feel so strongly about that those feelings would cause us to be unkind to and/or hurt others, those are idols. If we are guilty of any of these things and suffer in any area whether it be financially, emotionally, or spiritually, then we are not suffering for Christ, we are suffering from bad decisions and there is no reward for ourselves and no glory for God.  We need to decide that we are done with sin, commit to doing God’s will and then when we suffer for His sake, Christ will receive the glory and we will receive the reward in heaven. We have all seen those dirty cars where someone has written on them “Wash Me”.  When our lives become so cluttered and covered with things and issues, maybe we need someone to write on our our hearts, “wash me”.
 
Isaiah 1:18. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 09-09-2018

“Revere Christ as Lord”

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15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16  keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. — 1 Peter 3:1​5, 16 NIV

In the Old and New Testament, the word “heart” refers not to the physical organ, but to the center of all of our life processes.  The “heart” is the seat of our minds, emotions, and wills. Therefore, it refers to our thought patterns, our attitudes and our desires. Our thoughts become actions which become habits which become our lifestyle. The things and/or people that we spend the most time thinking about, in reality, are the things that control our lives.  This is characterized by the following verse:

45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. — Luke 6:45 NIV
Revere can be defined as “honor, look up to, or  put on a pedestal”.  A throne is a pedestal and our “hearts” are the center of our lives.  So, if we revere God, we honor Him by putting Him on the throne of our hearts and make Him the center of our lives.  Our decisions and thus, our lifestyles, will be examples of the Person we love and admire the most.  We will want others to follow our Leader.  In light of all this, we need to spend the majority of our time thinking about our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  If we do this, we will “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  We need to do this with love, gentleness and respect.  Just as our checkbooks show the patterns of our physical lifestyles, so our conversations show the patterns of our thought life and our spiritual lives. It is a law unto itself:
 

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. — Romans 8:5 NIV

So, let us, along with the Psalmist, ask God to create a clean heart in each of us. We need clean hearts if we are going to fulfill the sole purpose for which we were created and that is to glorify God.

 
31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. — 1 Cor. 10:31 NKJV
 
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 08-29-2018

A Never-Ending Gift

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2  The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him, ​- Isaiah 11:2a ISV​
This passage from Isaiah is one of the many prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament.  It gives us several of the characteristics of Jesus; wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and the fear of the Lord.  Notice that not only did He have the “fear of the Lord”, but He delighted in that fear.  Though, He was God, He came to us as all man.  As a man, His access to divine knowledge was limited.  He did this voluntarily so that He might live as all man so that He might be an example to us.  

 

6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.– Phil 2:6, 7 ESV

We, as humans, have access to that same Spirit.  In fact, that Spirit lives inside each of us.  He gave us this Spirit as a gift.  So, our lives should exhibit those same characteristics, at least to some degree.  To what degree depends completely on our commitment to spend time in His presence praying, meditating on His Word, and listening to His voice.  The reason we need to do this is that there is so much more Jesus wants to give us but He will not force it upon us, we have to ask Him for it and delight in receiving it.  How can we know that He will give us more?
 

32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? — Romans 8:32 NIV

4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. — Psalm 37:4 NIV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

 

Post 08-27-2018

“Foreigners and Exiles”

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11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. — 1 Peter 2:11,12 NIV
 
As sons, daughters and heirs of God, we should act accordingly.  Jesus gave up all of His glory in heaven, came to earth and lived as a human and an exile here. He did this so that He might become the first born of the new covenant and the head of the church.

 

18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. — Col. 1:18-20 NIV

As the first born, He is our example to follow.  He lived a sinless life.  We, as humans, cannot obtain perfection as long as we live in these fleshly tents.  We are in a daily battle to overcome our fleshly desires. It should be our hearts’ desire to get as close to that goal as we can.  Not only are we foreigners and exiles, but we are ambassadors of God and our home country, heaven. Our thoughts, words and actions should reflect the character of the leaders of that country.  If we strive to do that on a daily basis, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, God will be glorified.  When we do this with humility and love, it will cause others to want what we have.  As souls are added to the Kingdom, God will receive more and more glory.  When a soul is saved, it is as if God has visited us because there is a little more of heaven on earth.

 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 08-25-2018

“Stop Fighting With Each Other”

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You ask for something but do not get it because you ask for it for the wrong reason—for your own pleasure. – James 4:3 ISV
 
Let’s think back over the last few “discussions over differences” that we have had with a loved one, an acquaintance or someone ever the phone. In what percentage of the statements that we made, did the word “I” come up?  Were our thoughts, desires, and words based on “just judgment” or on our fleshly desires? Were we seeking justice or desiring to convince the other person(s) involved that we were right and they were wrong?  Or, if we are honest, were we just wanting to have it “our” way?  If we just wanted to have it our way, that is pride and we were more than likely wrong and just didn’t want to admit it.  When these “discussions over differences” get a little ugly, the flesh desires to kill and we satisfy that desire by using unkind and hurtful words.  Those words kill relationships. We covet the approval of our opinions from the other(s) involved in the discussion. so, we try to change their minds with our gift of persuasion. Instead, we should understand our limitations and ask God to change the minds of the ones who are wrong, accepting the fact that that might be us and not the others.  If we truly want God to answer our prayers (and He always does), then we need to be ready to accept the answer He gives.  Because the passage ends with the words “that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”, we tend to limit it to mean money. But, it applies to more than possessions and money, it also applies to time and talents. Are we using the time, talents and possessions that we have now for the glory of God?  We need to remember that all these “things” are really God’s anyway, they are just on loan to us and we could lose them quickly. Before we ask God for anything, we should be sure that what we are desiring will bring glory to His name.

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. — Col. 3:17 NIV

 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 08-07-2018