Posts Tagged love

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Matthew 5: 44 – 45            NET

But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

You’ve heard that you are to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you and that is a good focus of this passage, but I particularly like verse 45 for two reasons. First, it tells us the reason for the mandate to pray and love, which is that we might be like our Father. Secondly, it teaches us the difference between love and judgment, loudly revealing our Father as one who loves.

After we get saved and Jesus begins to clean us up, it is easy for us to want to separate ourselves from the unrighteousness people and actions we see in the world. Unfortunately, we begin to judge those people and we separate the world in to we and they. This, our Father does not do. He loves the whole world, so much, in fact, that he gave His only begotten son so that NONE should perish (John 3: 16). Speaking of John 3: 16, do you know what the very next verse says? “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” By the way, those were words spoken by Jesus. God sacrificed His only son so that through his sacrifice, the world might be saved, not condemned.

God sent His blessing into this world and it will work for whomever will work according to the way Yahweh engineered it. Sometimes, the unsaved are better believers than we are and thus, succeed to a greater extent than we. This ought not be, but it is. We are too busy fussing at each other and judging other Christians and the unsaved that we fill our churches, and our own souls with doubt and unbelief.

God put spiritual and physical laws into the earth. Gravity is a great example of one of these laws. Gravity works the same on the wicked as on the righteous, doesn’t it? God sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. He is constantly pouring out His best to anyone who will accept Him. He has also created laws which exist in the spirit realm. They too work for whoever applies them. He told us that whatever we believe, we can have (Mark 11: 23 – 24). He has told us to use our words to create our dreams and even that the power of life is in our tongues (Proverb 18: 21). Yet I find we are still running around spewing all kinds of garbage and unbelief from our mouths. Meanwhile, others are using God’s success system to great effect and they never give Him the credit. We are too worried about criticizing anyone who succeeds and making sure our pastors never have too nice a car to ever live in God’s overflow. We are afraid of being criticized ourselves. That is one of the reasons why so many Christians are so carnal. They look at the church and don’t want any part of it. They want Christ but they find the lifestyle of the heathen more attractive and they find more love outside the church than in it.

I don’t like it and I bet you don’t either. We’ve got to begin to take this gospel seriously. We need to buckle down and become students of the Word and believers. Then we need to do what the Word tells us. We need to commune with God and listen to His voice. We need to let the Holy Spirit guide us without getting all weird about it. Just quiet yourself down and listen to him.

None of us wants to be a part of this mealy mouth Christianity. None of us wants to see the unsaved surpassing God’s people using God’s own system. We are supposed to succeed and then give God the glory. And, we’ve got to stop judging one another and “those other guys.” Jesus said he didn’t come to judge the world so what makes us think we should. God sends the rain on both our crops, so He isn’t judging. He isn’t withholding His blessing. Our judgments are killing us while those we criticize are experiencing faith healing, financial prosperity and loving relationships. It is time we got over ourselves and seriously begin imitating our Father and learning His ways. Love is our mandate. Turn in your judge’s robe for a coat of compassion. Let love and acceptance color the way you think of all people, yes ALL, even those unsaved because God has not separated us into we and them. He is sending His truth to everyone who will listen. He is sending the nourishing rain to whomever will receive. Be blessed in the name and power of Jesus and live this gospel to the full. Receive God’s blessing and share that blessing with others. Let it overflow onto others, the good and the bad.

But . . ..

Psalm 13: 6               Tree of Life

But I trust in Your lovingkindness, my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to Adonai, because He has been good to me.

How could I choose any verse other than this one after yesterday’s passage? The first part of the psalm details David’s fear, worry and sorrow but as is so often the case, he does not allow himself to languish in anxiety.

The most important word in today’s verse may well be “but.” David tells of all the trouble. He momentarily dwells in the angst, BUT, he says, there is something else which speaks in the darkness. A light which casts out even the darkest shadow. Despite the circumstances, despite the fear and emotional trauma, God is seated on His throne and is well and able to cast His saving radiance on even our deepest gloom.

David knew that God’s lovingkindness trumps all. It even trumps our unworthiness, poor prayers, lack of prayers, heathen attitudes and every other failure. David was able to trust the Lord because he understood love. David had an enviable revelation that love compels God. It will not let Him rest. The Lord’s salvation reaches into the darkness giving us every reason to rejoice. He saves us from every situation, every worry, every fear. David would not allow himself to meditate on the problems. He shifted gears into trust and rejoicing. This was a purposeful act, one which ultimately catapulted him into song. Yes, there are problems out there. Sure, challenges arise but shall we focus our attention on them or remind ourselves that God’s lovingkindness is trustworthy? Shall we fix our eyes on the circumstances or on Jesus? These are not rhetorical questions. We must, like David, make a definitive decision. How shall we color the fabric of our lives, with the music of praise or with despair? Lift up your eyes, my beloved. See the great and glorious there upon your own horizon. Love is beckoning even as it answers your most deep-seeded worries. Let your heart be light for you Father, your real Father, has healing, love and joy in His wings.

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?