Posts Tagged love

Save the Wicked

Psalm 10: 15

Break the arm of the wicked and evil person. Punish his wickedness until you find no more.

This doesn’t seem a very Christian concept, does it? Yet, I wager most of us have felt the emotions articulated by this psalmist. You may wish to read the entire psalm, it isn’t long, in order to get the full flavor of this psalmist’s sentiments. He sees the poor and down trodden, the innocent, taken advantage of. He witnessed the arrogance of the wicked and their boasts that there is no God. No wonder in the last verses he adjures God to “Rise up.”

Why doesn’t God reach out his hand against these wicked people? Why doesn’t he just wipe them from the earth. I perceive two reasons why God does not simply obliterate them. First, He is love. If you know God and know that He is love, then that is always the first answer. Everything He does is colored by love. He wants these people saved rather than condemned. He wants all people to come to the full knowledge of His saving grace.

Second, He wants to give us room to exercise the authority He has given us. It sometimes appears that He is standing far off, but He actually is acting. He is nudging us, through His Holy Spirit, to defend the oppressed. We have been given the victory in Jesus and God’s plan is that we would enforce that victory. We have the sword of the Spirit and another mighty weapon, prayer. God is attempting to grow up His children so that we can take over the family business, now and through eternity. He has ministering spirits standing by, ready for action whenever we exercise our Kingdom Authority. That authority enables us to save the wicked and redeem the persecuted. We are not administrators of hate but rather of love and love is the most powerful force in the universe.

Pull out your sword and defend the weak. Wield your weapons and save the heart which is turned away from God for that is a brokenness that can be repaired by love.

Sacrificial Love

John 3: 16

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

What does this passage mean to you? Here is what it means to me, that Yahweh loved you and me so much that He gave that which was most precious to Him so that you and I would not die, to save us from eternal destruction. He traded His perfect son for us. Not much a bargain you might say. It shows what 1 John 4: 8 says, “God is love.”

Most Christians can quote this scripture, but I would argue that few know what it says. They quote the scripture and then say the most outlandish things. We should understand from this one little verse that everything God has ever done was out of love. He is not interested in sending people to hell. Hello! He sacrificed His son so that not one person would have to perish. Think about that for a moment in the context of life. It’s not just a cute saying. It is Yahweh’s essence, His being. Everything He ever does or says is because He so loves.

Here is one of the craziest things I have ever heard. People say, “God gave me cancer.” Are you kidding me with this? People will say He gave them cancer to make them stronger or improve their lives. I don’t want to harsh you or anyone, because God is love and I must be also, BUT, that statement can only be made by someone who doesn’t know God and who does not understand John 3: 16. See how much sense this makes – God so loved you that He sacrificed His son, gave that which was most precious to Him, so that you would live and not die. Then, having saved your life, gave you cancer. Is there any rationality in that at all? I know we are well meaning but really, sometimes we just don’t think through things very well. God didn’t have to give anyone cancer. We were all dying and on the fast track to hell. His response to tragedy is compassion, not trials. He is love. Love can’t behave in a way that is inconsistent with compassion and kindness. Love doesn’t give cancer.

Think about it this way. Imagine sacrificing your child for someone. It’s really unfathomable, isn’t it but let’s just pretend for a moment. Imagine that you love someone so much that you put your only child on a cross for them. Having done so, are you then going to turn around and give that person cancer? It just doesn’t make sense.

Your Father loves you with an unquenchable, profound love. He never wants any harm for you. He even sent you guardian angels to protect you from harm. Everything He does is to help you, not hurt you. You may find meaning and purpose in trial but the Father’s intention is that you find it through love. It is because He is loving you through those tough times that you find strength. It is the love, not the trial which makes you strong and remember that the joy of the Lord is your strength. That is where Yahweh’s path leads, not unto destruction.

Let’s get our heads tuned in and our hearts turned on. When we do, we will easily make confetti out of these silly ideas. No one will be able to deceive us again. Life and love are in the Father, Son and Spirit. Don’t allow anyone to convince you otherwise!

Redirect

Mark 5: 36

Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.

We are given many opportunities to be afraid. For some people those opportunities present themselves daily. But Jesus has an answer for that fear. The answer is his love (1 John 4: 18). There is no fear in love and his perfect love casts out fear. So, we are to abide in his love so that we may overcome fear rather than be overcome by it.

There are times you fear for your children and fear for your health. Sometimes situations look desperate and fear arises. But once you have lived this life long enough, you begin to realize that fear attracts negative things to itself while positive attitudes reject fear. As you gain a little experience you find that no matter how hopeless a situation appears, there is always a way out of it. There is always a glorious answer.

This is not to minimize the problems people face. There are huge challenges out there; otherwise there would really be no need for this teaching. Jesus knew that each and every one of us was going to face frightening circumstances. That is why he taught us to redirect our focus onto him. When we think about his miracle working power and the things he has pulled off for us in the past, we are able to face new challenges with much more faith. So, when you feel fear creeping into your heart, quickly redirect your mind to thinking about the miracles of Jesus. Think about things he has worked out in your life in the past and move your emotions over to faith in him rather than belief in that which you fear.

Perfect Parent

Psalm 68: 5 – 6

To the fatherless he is a father. To the widow he is a champion friend. To the lonely he gives a family. To the prisoners he leads into prosperity until they sing for joy. This is our Holy God in his Holy Place! But for the rebels there is heartache and despair.

This is one of the Words the Father has given us for encouragement. It is an important one, though sometimes over looked.  I have grayed out part of the verses to focus in on the first sentence.  We will discuss the remainder tomorrow.

There are no orphans in the Kingdom of God. God is a Father, the Father, in fact. If you had less than satisfactory relationships with your earthly parents, do not despair. Be healed in your heart by the one who loves you beyond measure. He (for lack of a more suitable pronoun) is your mother and your father. This is not the only place this promise appears. Psalm 27: 10 reads, “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.” If your earthly parents failed you, fear not because God is here to pick you up.

Every loving characteristic of a good parent comes from God because God is the source of all love. Both women and men inherit their parental skills from God. We have made God in our image attributing to “Him” only masculine qualities but this is not as it should be. God is not gendered. Why would “He” be? He has no reason to procreate. He simply creates with the words of His mouth. I think this mischaracterization of God is one of the reasons people imagine Yahweh as vengeful, harsh and angry. We have put human robes on Him painting Him with the brush we gained from earthly fathers. We have all been deceived. Earthly fathers were never meant to be relegated to the role of disciplinarians. Fathers, your job is to love your children. In this you model your heavenly parent.

Over the years I have been stunned at the number of people who admit to having not only unfulfilling relationships with their fathers, but even traumatic, or even abusive ones. Because of the broken relationships with our earthly fathers, we often approach God with trepidation if we dare approach Him at all. It is common to hear Christians confess to having little to no relationship with God even though they love Jesus. Why is this so? I believe it is because we expect Him to treat us as earthly fathers do. Here is the good news, though. There is healing for us all. Yahweh is the perfect father. I even want you to know He is your real father. He begat you in His imagination and in the spiritual realm before your parents were born. At the beginning of time, God looked into the heavens and saw your beautiful face. He thought then, as He does now, that you are the most beautiful baby ever. He loves you with a love that is, actually, beyond your comprehension. As much as you have ever loved anyone, He loves you way more than that. He doesn’t only love you to the moon and back, He loves you as much as the entire universe and more which is why the universe is still expanding. It hasn’t the capacity, yet, to contain all He has and wants for you.

If one, or even both of your earth parents forsook or mistreated you, take ahold of this revelation and promise from Yahweh today. You are the beloved of the most loving parent ever. Trust me in this, if you will give God your heart, He will cherish and nurture it as the most precious thing ever. He will be the father or mother you wished you had when you were a child. Believe me in this! He can move into your life in a real way. It may be hard for us to understand how a spirit being can become so real to us that we are nourished in His loving embrace, but it is true. You just have to trust me. If you seek Him, you will find Him. The scripture says He will make up for years that the locust has stolen (Joel 2: 25). Let Him/Her, for God is both father and mother. God is love, the very source of all love. Do not let your thoughts be pigeonholed any longer. God isn’t one or the other. He is all in all. He is absolutely everything you need. Embrace and accept the fullness of His great affection.

Confidence

Romans 5: 5           GW

We’re not ashamed to have this confidence, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Can we truly be confident in the Lord, so confident that it shows? The love of God brings hope and we will not be disappointed in our hope because God has given us the Holy Spirit. Did you know that one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to pour love into our hearts? He pours, not dribbles. A great volume of love is available to anyone who will receive. This love brings confidence.

We have confidence that God will never leave us nor forsake us because He poured out His Spirit to us. His Spirit lives in us so God is bound to us. He has chosen to be bound to us. We cannot be separated from Him because His Spirit is in us. That is a powerful statement. Therefore, nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8: 39). Surely this truth yields hope, a hope which leads to confident expectation.

Look at this verse from the New Living Translation, “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Is that not special? Here is the Passion version, “And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!”

Just think, it was God’s choice that provides us with a never-ending flow of His love. No one coerced Him. He came up with the idea and the plan. So, our confidence is in His love because He offered it freely even while we were yet lost. When we did not love Him, He devised a plan to furnish us with an everlasting, endless supply of His love and His love never fails. We should have confidence in that love. It is reliable and we can trust in it.

Let your hope in God’s love fill your heart with confidence. There is no guesswork here. God has given Himself to you because He wanted to. If He would give you His Spirit, and His Spirit is constantly pouring the love of God into your heart, what would the Father deny you? He has given the best, why not the rest?

Kindergarten

1 Corinthians 13: 1 – 3

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Do you get the idea it’s all about love? Well, you would be right. God is all about love and so is the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, if there is one thing we need to learn, it is love. Paul, writing here, says that even if he had everything else down but did not learn love, then he is still a child in the Kingdom of Heaven.

I called today’s devotional “Kindergarten” because I thought it captured what is otherwise a difficult concept. People ask me about who “gets into” heaven. You may know someone who was mean all their lives but acknowledged Jesus in their last days. You may contrast that person with the one you know who has been kind, generous and caring all the days of her life. Will they both get into heaven? This, I believe, is the very essence of judgment day.

If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is the risen Lord, then you are saved and going to heaven (Romans 10: 9). So, what is this about judgement day? We already know the outcome. We are saved and going to heaven. I think about this more like a placement office evaluation. We get to heaven on the basis of Jesus’ blood sacrifice, but what then? God did not create heaven so we could float around on puffy clouds and eat grapes all day. How long would it take for that to get very boring? No, we still have worlds and universes to explore and settle. Jesus came to give us abundant life not a boring retirement. We’ve adventures ahead. First, though, we must be equipped for the work of the Kingdom.

Some people have already learned much about operating in Kingdom principles. They already operate, in the earth, at a graduate school level. Others of us, may still be at a Kindergarten level. Not to worry, our Father has on the job training. He has given us the Holy Spirit who will lead us into all truth and that does not end when we move to heaven. At judgement day, we will be put into the right program for each of us.

Those who have learned to walk in love will move to the head of the class so if you want to go ahead and get in on the advanced class, learn love. Learn what it means to walk in love and to experience God’s love. They go hand in hand.

Convicted to Love

John 16: 7 – 11

I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

I bet you have read these verses dozens of times. I, also, have read this passage many times. I did not always understand its depth and richness though, and truly, I probably still do not see all that Jesus conveys with these words. Let us look more closely for a few minutes.

First, if you read the previous verses, you discover that Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the starting place for all of this. Jesus then describes part of the impact of the coming of the Spirit. First, he will convict the world concerning sin. Concerning sin, the Spirit convicts the world because they do not believe in Jesus as the Christ. These are the words which stopped me this week.

I thought he convicted the world concerning their sin, i.e. adultery, usury, lying, idol worship, etc. Shock of the week, that is not what the scripture says. I should have known better. God is love. Duh! The Spirit convicts people’s hearts about Christ. Guilt and Satan convict them about their behaviors. Do you see the subtlety? The Holy Spirit is preaching Christ. He is preaching the love of God.

Are we nuts? Revelation 12: 10 tells us that Satan is the accuser of the beloved. What are we thinking? Somehow, we turned that on its head and made the Holy Spirit he who condemns us and the world. How wrong can we possibly be? It is frightening how far we have twisted the scriptures. We have certainly been deceived.

The Holy Spirit preaches Jesus which, as we know, is the good news. How did we even turn the sending of the Holy Spirit, and his coming, into a negative? It is only because of the brokenness of our own hearts. The Spirit has come to continue the work of Jesus. We would all agree to that, wouldn’t we? That commission is to spread deliverance, truth and the loving, redemptive grace of the Father.

I will never see this scripture the same again. Perhaps you will say the same. The Holy Spirit didn’t come with a whip, He came with a heart, the heart of the Father. We know that heart to be one of love and compassion. When we receive the Spirit in his fullness, then our hearts will be full of love and compassion as well. Our hearts will be mended of their scars and the injuries therein healed. The healing must begin with us, then we will be able to tell the world of the love that saved and healed us. Then we will be able to spread the good news to all people. The good news is attractive; as Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself,” (John 12: 32). Amen!

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