Something God showed me this morning that I had never seen:
Luke 7:47b says, "to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
I have always known that when Jesus said this that He was referring primarily to God the Father, and that when we confess sin to God and ask for forgiveness He forgives us, and in turn we will love Him much because He forgives us. What I had never really seen before was this: it also applies to people. What I mean is, it occurred to me, the people that I love the most in my life are those who have forgiven me for the most. Starting primarily with my wife. Our spouses see the worst and best of us. The longer we are married the more I love her, not because I am supposed to, but because she shows me Jesus' love. How is His love manifested through her? She forgives me sincerely, if and when I fail her somehow.
If there's someone in your life that you want to love you, be sure you are loving them through forgiveness. And always remember to practice forgiveness, don't just expect to receive it if you did not give it, we reap what we sow...
And most importantly? You cannot truly love and forgive, fully, unless you are saved from the power of sin by Jesus Christ. Trust in Him as your Lord and Savior, ask Him to forgive you, ask Him to save you and He will give you His Holy Spirit and deliver you from the power of sin and the devil.
The Bible says in Luke 6:38- "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
I want to make some quick observations here-
1. This passage has nothing to do with money.
2. In the context Jesus is telling us to be merciful to others to forgive others and to simply walk in love.
3. When we do this, we will reap back from God a running over in our bosom of joy and peace and more of a fullness of God's presence in our lives.
Even though it is true that when we give money we reap back from God blessings, we must read scripture in its context. If we do give money we cannot give soley to receive money back from God. We give money because we love God and because we want Him to be glorified in our lives.
And for what it's worth, I want to guarantee you from personal experience, that this is the main goal of God in your life...TRUE love. Until we allow Him to teach us this truth, to walk in love, we will have a very difficult Christian walk.
Being a Christian is learning not just to follow Jesus physically, but following Jesus' heart. All we have to do is read the Gospels and pray that God will reveal to us who He really is and He will.
What brings God's blessing and favor into our lives is to walk in love and forgiveness and mercy to other people just as God has shown to us. One sure way to not please God is to treat others in a way we do not want to be treated. On the other hand, if we desire in our hearts to be like Jesus and to forgive and to be merciful and to walk in love, and we are asking God to help us do this, you can be sure He is pleased, even though you might fall short.
Don't give up when you are tempted to be too hard on others or if you fail. Get up confess your sins ask Jesus to save you from yourself, He is so faithful. I have seen it time and time again, God is faithful to mold us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ, our job is to trust Him and to love Him above all.
1 John 1:8–9 (NKJV)
"8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
If you are a true Christian you really need to read this and pay close attention to the following words. If and when you sin as a Christian, you must beware of allowing guilt and condemnation to go too far. What do I mean? Once you confess your sins to God, after you have asked Him to forgive you for some failure, you must guard your mind and heart against condemning thoughts that are negative that produce a feeling of alienation against God.
No, I am NOT speaking to those who live in willful rebellion against God, I am speaking to those who love Jesus Christ, but stumble and fall. You must believe that God forgives you when you confess your sins. Beating yourself down, saying negative things about yourself, and feeling unworthy to come to Jesus are all things that seem humble, they seem good, but they are not good.
These negative condemning thoughts produce alienation from the very One who saves you and cleanses you from your sins. We believe the Word of God? Then we have to believe the scriptures that tell us God forgives us and cleanses us from our sins, by the blood of His Son Jesus Christ, if we will confess.
Take special care to take note of highlighted words below:
Romans 1:18–32 (NKJV)
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Now I am NOT going to write what most would think, and this is not what most Christians believe/understand about homosexuality. I write this because of today's (6-26-15) ruling by the Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states. Please read to the end before judging this writing.
1. Many Christians do not understand what this passage (Romans 1:18-32) actually says. It says (among many other things) that God, reveals His wrath, IN THAT, homosexuality becomes a sin (though not all of the sins listed here) that people get "turned over to." GOD turns them over. And God does this as a judgment for sins going on unrepented for (see verses 19-23). In other words, homosexuality is sometimes THE display of God's wrath.
2. What does this mean? This means that God, in His wrath/judgment, says, "You want to reject Me? You want to resist your conscience? You want immorality? Then I will turn you over to just that. I will do this to individuals, and to your society, if your society does the same":
*18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven...21 because, although they knew God....24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies ...26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful...28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting
3. I am going to paraphrase what I believe God has shown me from His Word:
----"America is being turned over to her sins. Yes, God will judge America, and the individual for their sins (if they don't repent)...but understand, God has already judged...it is seen in the widespread acceptance, and legalization of homosexual marriage. THIS is God's wrath revealed from heaven against the sinfulness of man."
4. The real problem with America is not homosexuals, it is the lazy, apathetic state of the "church." Yes, there are true, diligent, awake saints...but they are few. America is not the problem, the problem is that, starting within the four walls of the church, we have become more and more lukewarm, ungrateful, tolerant of sin, entertainment focused, and fake. The result of this will always be that culture will wax worse and worse until the wrath of God is poured out. How can this be seen (has God revealed it)? In that we are turned over to think sin is OK, and even that God is OK with sin.
5. What's really going on in America? God has already judged us, His wrath is currently ON DISPLAY in that homosexual marriage is being legalized, and accepted. We have been given the liberal, satanic politicians we wanted (not all of us, but America as a whole) and most church folks only understand that "God is going to judge us..." No...He HAS judged us (America, not true saints), AND He is ALSO going to judge us.
6. Jesus came to save EVERYONE. This includes homosexuals. Christians are to love people and hate sin. There is only one sin that's unforgivable, and it's the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:29). God can, will, and wants to save everyone, including homosexuals. Remember, many have never even heard the Gospel.
7. We really need to understand the truth to be effective in leading people to Jesus. If satan can convince church goers that homosexuals/liberals are the churches problem, then this creates a larger chasm than is necessary. Let us have chasms because we live and preach the truth IN LOVE. If we make enemies, let it be because we truly represent Jesus, not our strong attitudes against certain sexual immoralities and sins. Let us hate ALL sin, and ask God for His leading as to how and when we ought to speak against individual sins. We must beware of focusing upon just a few sins we particularly hate etc. I am sad to say that, to the lost, it seems that the only sins Christians fight against today are abortion and homosexuality. This indirectly teaches certain people groups that Christians are mad at them and that we are their problem...hence...the likelihood they will be saved is slimmer.
8. I am convinced that the Pharisaical spirit within Christendom, is speeding up persecution unnecessarily. Even worse, when a person with the real love and truth of God comes into the homosexual's life, the homosexual likely already thinks that the Christian condemns them. They are already shut off from listening because of the condemning spirit in the church today (I am NOT saying preaching the truth is condemning; I am speaking of the judgmental spirit often in church). Yes, they are already condemned for their sin, but Jesus came to save, not condemn...and this includes homosexuals (John 3:17).
9. Homosexuality is sin, and if a person does not turn away from it to Jesus, they will go to hell. This is the truth of ALL sin. When a person gets truly saved, they quickly learn that other sinners are in the same predicament as they were, and they have compassion on them...even if the sins others are in are not the same sins they were in.
10. The Church needs to preach Jesus, and against sin as He leads...but we are not called to focus primarily on sin alone, but Jesus. This may sound strange, but it is possible to make an idol out of preaching certain topics. It is possible to focus on a topic more than God. This is idolatry just the same as other forms of idolatry.
11. Here's the summary of what I'm trying to say...God has already judged America, this is why homosexual marriage is being legalized. This is why we have very evil leaders in high positions. This is why immorality is seen as the norm and "cool." Don't make the mistake of thinking God's judgments are only financial...in fact, prosperity can be a judgment. Don't make the mistake of thinking that as long as the economy is good, God hasn't judged yet.
12. God turns people over with a redemptive purpose. He does this so people will experience the filthiness and the consequence of sin in hopes they will "come to their senses" and repent like the prodigal son did while out with the pigs (Luke 15).
13. The truth sets us free, and if we are better equipped with truth we can be better witnesses to the lost which will help them to be set free by Jesus. If we are inadequate in our understanding of God's judgments, we can be inadequate in witnessing for Jesus. Remember what God says through Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 8:7 (NKJV)
7 “Even the stork in the heavens
Knows her appointed times;
And the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow
Observe the time of their coming.
But My people do not know the judgment of the Lord."
Let this NOT be us. This was the purpose of this writing, to help believers to have a better understanding of what is really happening in America with this increase of acceptance of the homosexual, immoral lifestyle. God help me to love EVERYONE like YOU do. Help me to love You above all and be led perfectly by Your precious Spirit.
The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:3 (NKJV)
"Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better."
This seems odd at first glance, and if one did not specifically say it was a Bible verse, many might scoff at the statement...until you really think about it:
*How have trails and hardships caused you to draw closer to God?
*How has pain spurred you to pray?
I think one of the best ways to understand this is the illustration of exercise: when it hurts, you are usually getting benefit...but if you "work out" with minimal suffering as your goal, you will never gain muscle or lose weight...hence, "sorrow is better than laughter."
Yes, the joy of the Lord is our strength (which is only in one verse in the Bible; Nehemiah 8:10), but the Bible has many verses about the necessity of trials to help our faith (Psalm 119:67, 71; James 1:3; 1 Peter 1:6-7; ), or our relationship with God...to even start to exist. I am certain, that if it were not for periods of incredible sorrow in my life, I would have never cried out to God for forgiveness, and I would not be where I am today in my spiritual maturity either.
So what's the point? Pain is a great motivator, and it helps us to know something is not right. If you put your hand on a stove, your body will tell you that "that was wrong, change your behavior quick"...and sometimes, God tells you something is wrong, "change your behavior quick" through spiritual/emotional pain.
Something refreshing to know here is this; often we can minimize pain by not being stubborn. We can go through less trials if we want to learn for our own good. God is not trying to harm us, but like children, we don't listen without a swat sometimes...but if we will listen, we reap the benefit.
Sometimes pain has nothing to do with anything we do or don't do, this world just hurts...but whatever the case, don't mistake pain as always being bad, it often is just what we need.
Go to Jesus, pray in your own words, believe He loves you, and watch what He will do to change your "sad countenance" and make your "heart better."
The Bible says in Galatians 5:22-23:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."
When someone trusts in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and believes from their heart (anyone who truly believes from their heart simultaneously repents from their sins; it is impossible to truly believe without repenting because faith without works is dead (James 2:17)) that He was raised from the dead for their sins, they are then born again (John 3:3; Romans 10:9). Born again means that the Holy Spirit comes into them and raises them from spiritual death. When God's Holy Spirit comes inside of a person they immediately will start to produce the fruit of the Spirit. The way this is manifested varies depending on each person's maturity and desire to grow. But one thing will never change, the fruit of the Spirit will come out of any person that has the Spirit. So if Galatians 5:22-23 is not manifesting in our lives then we need to question our "Christian life." Fruit comes off of plants or trees that are alive, not dead. Within Christendom today we have a lot of activity going on, charismatic preaching, leaders, and singing, but little true love. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13 that if we do not have love we have nothing. The most interesting part of this passage is that 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 14 both speak of the spiritual gifts. So right in the middle, chapter 13, God tells us that if we do not have love we have nothing. If we do not have love, real Godly love, we do not have anything, in fact we might not even have God's Spirit inside of us. The Bible says in 1st John 4:8; 16 that God is love. Most of us do not understand just how important that really is. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit, love will be the primary manifestation. And if we have God's love, we will obey God, and we will treat others like we're supposed to, and we will forgive, and we will have compassion for the lost, and we will be faithful...etc etc. Every single aspect of true Christianity it's based on love. Not the counterfeit, pseudo love which puts its head in the clouds and says that everyone is saved, but real biblical love. God help me to be filled with Your love...help me to love people like You love....and help me love You above all.
The Bible says in Psalm 25:14 (NKJV)-
"The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him,and He will show them His covenant."
Several years ago, I can remember hearing one of my favorite preachers, Pastor David Wilkerson, say this was among one of his favorite verses, if not THE favorite. Of course I wanted to really listen as he said this because of the great respect I had for him. As I listened, the verse changed me. It made me want to know the secret of God...His heart, His communication among His "inner circle", closest followers. I began to pray God would show me the secrets of His heart, and He has progressively done so, as He does with anyone who fears Him.
The Bible also says in Jeremiah 33:3-
"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
Here's the summary of what I want to tell you; If you fear God (truly respect Him for who He is), and if you will call on Him (pray), God will show you things that very few people know. Truths that will set you free from things you don't even know you need freedom from. God will give you understanding, wisdom, and peace. He will remove fear and sleeplessness. He will even make your enemies to be at peace with you (Proverbs 16:7).
No, it is not complicated, and there is not a special formula...just come to God with a real heart in true faith and ask Him to reveal Himself to you...set your heart on Him, and you will see that these verses are true. God only waits for us to cry out to Him, and believe His Word to be true...to fully trust in His Son Jesus Christ.
James 4:4 says, "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."
As believers in Jesus Christ we must guard our selves from allowing the lust of the eyes the lust of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:16) to get a hold of our hearts after we have become Christians. God help us not to have one foot in the world and one foot in church, God help us not to have divided hearts and be double minded (James 1:8).
I read the following passage in John in my devotions this week and God confirmed something I had been hearing in my inner ear for several days, even though I have not been tempted in this area recently...YET. Yes, God will speak to our hearts to prepare us sometimes, not just to rebuke us for sin alone. The thought that had replayed in my mind was this:
"Be careful that you do not preach/not preach anything based upon the fear of people and their opinions...but fear and love Me above all" -God
I think that most people would be tempted in this area, whether they are a pastor, or a leader. Even if we are simply living day to day life, we will likely be tempted at some point to sell God out for the praise of men. I believe this is why Jesus told us not to be ashamed of Him before people in Mark 8:38. The following passage is good for each of us to take to heart:
John 12:42–43 (NKJV)
42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Is it really necessary to be at church? Well I will let God tell you in two simple verses:
1 John 1:7 (NKJV)
"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."
What does this mean? If we are living in God's will, we DO have fellowship with other believers. The flip side is that if you are not living right (in true faith in Jesus Christ), you will fade out of church all together if you are not careful. In fact, the Bible says that we isolate ourselves when we get into, "me, myself, and I" mode:
Proverbs 18:1 (NKJV)
"A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment."
Luke 21:34 (NKJV)
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly."
We are warned here, by Jesus Himself, of the danger of getting too busy for God, too saturated with this world's cares, and ending up not ready when He returns (being spiritually drunk; Jesus was not referring to alcohol because He specifically refers to our "hearts"/spiritually speaking).
Folks, Jesus is coming back very soon...and church attendance is one of the 3 essential ingredients to your life of faith:
2. Bible reading
If you need Jesus (and we all do), then you need to nurture your spiritual life more than any other part of life...because out of your spiritual life flow all other things. Be faithful to your church...not only for your own well being, but for your babies, and for those who need your gifts (hospitality/preaching/prayers/encouragement) at church.
Beware of excuses, because they are often the "booze talking."
One last passage to admonish you:
Hebrews 10 (NKJV)
"24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
What "Day"? The Second Coming of Jesus Christ (which is evidently near)
What is "not forsaking"? Don't skip church
1. Is it possible for a Christian to commit suicide?
*I want to give you some food for thought so you can answer people in a biblically mature way on this sensitive topic:
** ILLUSTRATION: If someone gets truly saved, and gets drunk/high, they are still saved even though they are sinning by doing this (I am not talking about LIVING in sin, but failing). It is very possible, especially if this person is prone to suicidal tendencies before, to have suicidal tendencies enhanced per alcohol and drug abuse.
What's my point? Just as someone might be much more prone to commit adultery in such a state of mind, or even murder someone...it is also possible that suicide could happen. Yes, even a true Christian could possibly find themselves doing something totally bizarre with just a few bad decisions, mixed with alcohol/drugs, mixed with bad news, and don't forget the devil's potential influence.
Any true believer that has been saved for any amount of time knows that they have failed God miserably after they were saved. Everyone fails differently, because different people have different sin tendencies. This is a helpful thought as we try to understand this difficult question.
2. Is suicide the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which is the only unforgivable sin?
2 Corinthians 6:14–18 (NKJV)
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." 17 Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”
1 Corinthians 6:9–10 (NKJV)
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
No, you CANNOT live life on your terms and go to heaven...that is exactly what we just read. I want to try to keep this simple, and not sound too hard, but you do NOT have a choice in the matter when you give your life to Jesus by true faith. You are His, period.
I am very sad today with all of the deception I see around me; those I know, love, and even have pastored for years, who are living in open rebellion to God and think they are ok (ultimately they are unbelievers). No, you are NOT ok, and I am afraid you may be getting turned over to your sins (read Romans 1 etc below)...to think that you can live against God and be saved (be an unbeliever)? This is impossible. You will either repent/turn from your sins (truly believe) and turn to Jesus, or you will burn in hell forever.
It's a shame that so many profess to be Christians, but do not know Jesus...and they are warned about it over and over. I just cannot understand how people can regularly attend true Bible teaching churches and continue in sin. It's one thing if your pastor thinks he's a stud, cool, and cute...and doesn't REALLY preach the Word...but when you hear the Word in truth and reject it? You are in trouble.
Jesus has more mercy than we can comprehend, but His mercy is forever on those who fear Him (Psalm 103:11), not forever on those who mock Him (Galatians 6:7). Jesus is not some sissified, passive, effeminate "guy in heaven." Jesus is the LORD, and we had better FEAR HIM.
Romans 1:28 (NKJV)
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
Psalm 50:20–21 (NKJV)
20 You sit and speak against your brother;
You slander your own mother’s son.
21 These things you have done, and I kept silent;
You thought that I was altogether like you;
But I will rebuke you,
And set them in order before your eyes.
Psalm 81:11–12 (NKJV)
11 “But My people would not heed My voice,
And Israel would have none of Me.
12 So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart,
To walk in their own counsels.
Two verses I am thankful for:
Psalm 130:3–4 (NLT)
3 LORD, if you kept a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive?
4 But you offer forgiveness,
that we might learn to fear you.
We could never have hope, if it weren't for God's great mercy on us as sinners. If we did not have the ability to go to Jesus through faith and ask for forgiveness, what a miserable, temporary existence in this world. No one in the entire world has any hope apart from the precious Lord Jesus.
God, because HE is good, because HE chooses, offers mercy to us for ALL of our sins...if we will simply agree with Him, that we need His forgiveness. Once we truly receive that forgiveness in our hearts, we WILL fear Him...the true fear of God. Not being scared of Him, but having a holy awe, and love, and respect...because we know we have sinned, do not deserve His mercy, and that Jesus died because of OUR sins.
You cannot be a true recipient of God's forgiveness and not fear Him. You cannot receive His peace in your heart, the peace He gives after you truly believe, and not praise Him. You cannot truly understand how He loves you and not love Him.
I love Jesus more than anything, and anyone, because He is life. He is so good, so kind, so gracious...and I thank Him that He gives us sense to honor Him after He gives us sense to ask for forgiveness. Praise Him for His awesome grace!
1 Corinthians 16:14 (NKJV)
“Let all that you do be done with love.”
Real love places self in other people’s shoes. In other words, when others do things against me, or do things I don’t agree with, I immediately remember that I could do the same today. I could fail, accidentally hurt someone, or offend people so easily. What would I want if I did? Mercy, forgiveness, love. I want to treat others the way Jesus treats me. It is much easier to love people when you remember how much God has loved you…it is much easier to be merciful and overlook foolishness and offenses when we remember how offensive we’ve been at times.
Lord, help us to love with real love, not human, shallow love, but Your merciful kindness that has empathy, humility, and gives what we want to receive. Help us to let all that we do be done with true love that is quick to forgive. Give us Your heart so we can have peace and quickly mend relationships because our days in this world are very few.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
Here, I believe, is one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible. Why? Because of a key phrase, a phrase that is overlooked, and if seen, is misunderstood. The phrase is, "to those who love God".
What do I mean? In this verse, the promise that "all things work together for good" is ONLY to those who "love God". So what is the point? This might sound "negative," but if we do NOT love God, then we are not assured that this promise applies to us. So, how do you know if you love God? Jesus told us clearly.
John 8:42a (NKJV)
"Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me..."
John 14:15 (NKJV)
15 “If you love Me, (Gk verb is in the future tense and can accurately be translated "you will") keep My commandments."
John 14 (NKJV)
"23 Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.'"
Sometimes people live under a curse, quoting this verse, deceived into thinking all will be well, when they are not even truly born again, not to mention, they are not governed by God's heart from His Word.
Is this all bad news? No, it is actually encouraging. How? You CAN love God if you don't, starting right now, by asking God to forgive and save you. Secondly, if we love God, we can be assured we will have all things work together for our good...even our failures. Thank God He did not say, "All things work together for good to those who never fail"! Praise Him that He is so patient and merciful...praise Him that He does make every good and every bad thing work together for our good if we simply love Him...the One who is completely lovable.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV)
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
In many ways, christendom has placed emphasis on the wrong things. These things might be good things, but when they are too important, they become stumbling blocks.
Some focus on preaching style, some focus on their Facebook persona, some focus on their degrees, some focus on their spiritual gifts, some focus on speaking in tongues, some focus on how they dress, and some focus on their doctrinal distinctions.
What does this do? It all produces pride. Because ultimately we start to judge ourselves by ourselves and we become our own standard. However....when we judge ourselves by Jesus, we must conclude that love is the principle thing.
The Bible says that the greatest and most important part of our lives is love. From experience I tell you, when you are filled with God's love (the Holy Spirit/Spirit of Christ/walking in the Spirit), you will automatically be an obedient, happy Christian, but if you are focusing on whatever you think is important, love will dry up.
You see, in Galatians 5:22 we read that love is the very first thing listed in the fruit of the Spirit. Not preaching, dress, doctrine, tongues, or any other good thing. If we are not careful to focus on walking in God's love, we will start to condemn those who do not fit our mold. When we walk in love, we have compassion, and when we have compassion, it is much easier to forgive, to witness, to be patient with the lost, and other groups who disagree with us.
So ask God to fill you with His love/Spirit...and remember that God IS love (1 John 4:8;16). Judge yourself by God's love, not what you think. When we do this, we will see 1 Corinthians 13 start to flow out of us rather than trying to make it happen in us.
In the apostle Peter we can learn about law vs grace. Let me explain by showing you something about him at the end of Jesus’ earthly life, first:
Matthew 26:31–35 (NKJV)
31 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:
‘I will strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”
33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”
34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
Then we see that Peter did fail just as Jesus said he would:
Matthew 26:74–75 (NKJV)
74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.
What is very interesting is what Jesus did NOT say before He knew Peter would fail miserably:
Luke 22:31–32 (NKJV)
31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
So why would Jesus pray this? Why didn’t Jesus say, “I have prayed that you would not fail AT ALL”? Why would Jesus only pray that Peter's faith would not fail? Why did He not pray that Peter would not deny Him? Because Jesus knew Peter had pride in his heart and this was needing to be dealt with. Let me show you what I mean:
John 21:15 (NKJV)
15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
Here we read that after Jesus was resurrected He came to Peter and basically asked him, “Do you love Me more than all the others?” Or, “Are you still willing to exalt yourself after denying me?” Jesus was not trying to embarrass Peter here, but He was trying to teach him a lesson on pride.
Again, concerning what was NOT said here, what did Peter NOT say in response to Jesus? He did NOT say, “I DO love you more than these other disciples.” You see, this is the very thing Peter thought in his heart before he denied Jesus three times. Likewise, this is the very reason Peter was permitted to fail, and fail miserably. So how does this apply to us?
When our heart is “law driven” it is driven by our outward conduct and we exalt ourselves over others and compare ourselves to them. In other words, when we are under law (or slip into it accidentally), we are simultaneously walking in pride, not humility. And when we are in pride, we are outside of grace:
James 4:6 (NKJV)
6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Without grace we are simultaneously without victory, period. In other words, if God is resisting us, rather than exalting us, what hope do we have? How can we live over sin rather than sin living over us if we do not have grace? And how can we have grace if we do not have humility? We can’t.
To walk in the Spirit is to live under grace rather than law. This is what is meant when we read:
Galatians 5:16 (NKJV)
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
The book of Romans helps us understand this also:
Romans 6:14 (NKJV)
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
The flipside of grace is to be under law and to have sin in dominion over you. So what is the summary of all of this? What do we need to learn from Peter here?
1. Pride causes us to exalt ourselves in our hearts over others, like Peter did
2. When we are proud we are looking at ourselves instead of Jesus, which is self-righteousness/law
3. When we look to Jesus we will live in humility, because we cannot look at the true Christ without being humbled
4. When we live in humility we receive constant grace from God to live the Christian life victoriously
5. If we get proud after we have become true Christians, God will allow us to fail, if necessary, to teach us humility
6. Many in church today exalt themselves over others because they do, or don’t do, certain things
7. This pharisaical mentality comes from the ignorance that some strengths are simply genetically inherited
8. These same people have no idea they are proud, and likely defeated (in private) because of it
9. Lastly, they do not know they are under law rather than grace, and oftentimes won’t learn apart from failure
How do you know if you are truly walking in humility?
1. When you look at others that are not like you, you love them rather than look down on them
2. When you look at others, you know immediately that you could be in the EXACT SAME SINS they are in if it were not for the grace of God
3. You are mindful that the only reason you have any good thing, or victory, is because of God…NOT yourself, your special church group, or your family
4. You judge yourself before you judge others
From my heart I tell you that I have learned more from failure than any victory. And one of those things I have learned is this; the minute I lose sight of whom I am, and who Jesus is, is the moment I slip into law, and simultaneously start to slide downhill until I see the truth about myself.
Let us pray for grace to see ourselves in truth and remember what we have learned in our failures, not forgetting as soon as things start to get better, lest we be permitted to fail to keep us living in reality for the glory of God.
It is by satanic design that many believers do not see the realness of satan's influence in their Christian lives. The devil (and all the demonic host) is a very real issue to each sincere Christian. The reason satan does not want us to recognize this is because we have authority over him through Jesus Christ (Luke 10:19). satan knows that the moment we see that we are actually dealing with him, not our spouse/coworker/enemy, that we will go to God in prayer. This is precisely why he tries to keep our understanding darkened on this matter...so let's brighten our understanding.
Ephesians 6 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" (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV). Now let's look at the New Living Translation, "For we* are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places."
Yes, this is literally true, you are not fighting the things you see, but what you cannot see. And this unseen enemy is your main outside (our main inside problem is self) problem. Not people, not your circumstances, but the wicked one who hates you. And this wicked one harasses us, lies to us, and about us. He tempts, he disrupts peace and harmony, he reminds you of things that are unclean to start fights or condemn you, and he DOES NOT want you to know it is him...but it is.
What to do? First remember this verse, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all" (Psalm 34:19 NKJV). Secondly, remember that every true believer has authority over satan. If you are truly saved, you simply need to use the authority you already have.
Here is the biblical formula to overcoming satan:
No, this life will never be heaven, but it helps to be rid of unnecessary harassment from hell. satan likes to disrupt peace, if for no other reason, to just make us miserable...but more than anything he wants us to drift into unbelief. You will be just fine if you'll keep your eyes on Jesus.
1 John 5:4b...And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
Paul the apostle said in 2 Timothy 4:6b-8:
6b…the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (NKJV)
So he says, “I’m about to die (v6b), I have fought the good fight, finished it, and kept my faith (v7), and I will be rewarded for doing so, as will everyone who loves Jesus like I do (v8).” So how does this apply to us? Simply put, pure faith, faith that is purely refined, is a FIGHTING FAITH.
So here’s our dilemma; will we go down in a fetal position, giving up spiritually as satan assaults us…or will we FIGHT through faith in the Lord Jesus? Yes, we WILL be attacked, falsely accused, slandered, misunderstood…from within and from without. There are no exceptions, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). But listen…this is NOT bad news…rather, it is the confirmation that you are a lover of Jesus. In fact, sometimes, the more you love Jesus the worse the assaults.
So you read this and you think, “I’m not in the ministry etc. etc.” You don’t have to be in the “ministry.” Satan assaults you through coworkers at times, even through a spouse or family member…maybe even through true Christians. But one area of assault we often do not recognize is this: the arena of your mind. Yes, he will lie to you, condemn you, and tell you God is through with you…but remember, HE IS A LIAR.
What’s the message for you today? Don’t give up in your fight. Your heart hurts, and God knows this. That is why you are reading this, He cares for you and had it written for you. He knows you are mistreated at times, etc., but He wants to remind you to FIGHT, and DON’T STOP UNTIL YOU ARE IN THE GRAVE!!! Finish your race well. Remember what God said to you in Romans 8:
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Is it really necessary to try to be at all church services? Does a Christian really need to be inconvenienced when they are exhausted after a full day of life’s stresses? Well, the only way to answer this question correctly is by scripture.
The Bible says in 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Notice that this verse says that if we are living a true Christian life, we WILL have fellowship with saints. Not only this, but it goes on to say that the blood of Jesus Christ also cleanses us from our sins. No, this verse is not saying that going to church alone causes you to be cleansed by Jesus’ blood…but…it IS saying that if we are truly living by faith in the Lord Jesus, we WILL be in fellowship with the saints, just as the blood of Jesus simultaneously cleanses us from our sins.
So the real question is this; if you rarely want to attend church, then what kind of a relationship with God do you really have? Do you really even have a true saving work of the Holy Spirit in your heart? Because as we just read, you will be in fellowship with other saints if you do.
The second thing I want to point out is this; the flip side to fellowship because you are a believer living in light, is to be living in darkness. The Proverbs tell us, “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment. (Proverbs 18:1 NKJV)”
You see, one of the reasons we do not want to attend church is because we will be told that what we are doing, or the way we are living, is wrong. Simply put, we need fellowship because it helps smooth our rough edges, and if we are honest, we sure feel a lot better spiritually when we do attend.
Yes, there are dead churches that are “unedifying,” but not all are, and if your church is dead, then why are you going there? Have you prayed about this? Are you sure you are attending where you should? Pray and trust Jesus, He will lead you.
So why don’t you attend faithfully? I’m sure you have “good” reasons, but did you ask Jesus about those reasons? Did you pray and ask Him if He agrees? Just remember one thing, there is a solemn admonition in Hebrews:
“24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
~Hebrews 10 (NKJV)