If God Loved Me

1 Corinthians 15: 34

For some have no knowledge of God’s wonderful love.

I think this is one of the biggest keys in all of Christianity, that is understanding the love the Father has for each of us. The verse above is Bible so it must be true but even if it was not in the Bible and you had simply spoken it to me, I would believe it.

It is easy for us to relate this passage to non-believers. If they knew of the love of God, we reason, then they would be believers too. My ministry, though, is not to non-believers but rather to the saints. I make this distinction to point out that I think this passage speaks to Christians. I believe few of us, myself included, have yet to grasp the love which God has for us. This applies to ministers as well.

I know this because I too hear the messages from the pulpit which lack the understanding that God is love and that He loves us. I know it applies to the saints because I hear the comments we speak which reveal our heart belief that God does not truly love us. Further, our actions speak even more loudly than words. We do not act like people who are convinced that God loves them. As I wrote about in the Word of the Day entitled Frozen Heart, this is the example of the mind being convinced but the heart unpersuaded. We believe in our minds; our thinking agrees that God loves us. In our hearts, though, we lack the substantive belief that would allow us to rely on His love.

Now that we have identified a problem, the real question is how to fix it. Well, by now we have figured out that we can fix nothing in our own strength. We must rely on our partnership with the Trinity and here is the real heart of the problem. How do we go to God and partner with Him when our heart of hearts doesn’t truly believe that He loves us?

Most often, even when we see an issue like this, we don’t do anything about it for two reasons. The first being what I just identified, we don’t completely trust Him. Secondly, we don’t really know what to do. Our relationship with Him may be that we don’t feel we have paved avenues to Him, but, as much as that feels true, it is not. Jesus told us that he is the way (John 14: 6). Do you trust Jesus? I have known many people who have affection for and feel close to Jesus but have almost no relationship with God the Father. Actually, I was one of those people. There were two things I did which bridged the gap for me. First, I went to God through Jesus. In my visionary capacity, I saw myself walking into the throne room accompanied by Jesus. He took me to God and presented me. It was a very empowering experience. As I watched the scene unfold, I could see the joy and pride on Jesus’ face as he presented me to God. That bolstered my confidence. Then I looked upon the Father and I received the welcoming presence He radiated towards me. His eyes were for me rather than Jesus. He didn’t dismiss Jesus, but His attention was for me. That was significant because even with Jesus in the room, Father gave His attention to me.

In my previously emaciated relationship with God, the only role I played was as a servant. I only encountered the Father to pick up an assignment, a task. As I began to engage with Him, I began to see myself differently. No longer do I enter the throne room and drop to a knee, head bowed, awaiting orders. Now I run and jump in His lap while He carries on universe business. I am the child who enters my Dad’s office or the boardroom while He is working. I am always welcome and always permitted.

The other thing which helped me begin to see God as loving parent was a shift in my visualization. A friend of mine recommended this. Back in the days when I was struggling to find the loving, affectionate part of our relationship she suggested I meet with God in a location that was comfortable to me. So, I met with Him at my conference table. At that time I was practicing law and conducted a lot of business at the conference room table. Being able to talk with Him when He was in my place of comfort rather than in His throne room helped me to be able to talk with Him in a more relaxed manner. Then one day we moved from the conference room to the kitchen table. Very rapidly He became Yahweh and Dad to me. I never call Him “God” now, accept in referring to Him with other people.

Don’t forget to just talk with Him about this subject and also, this is an excellent opportunity to use your two-way journaling. The bottom line is this, if you will give Him an opportunity to show His love for you, He will. It is a top priority for Him. We have to be proactive though. We can’t keep Him at arm’s length, treat Him as a far distant deity and still be able to receive the assurance of His love that we need. If we would learn to pour out our hearts to Him, speaking earnestly and honestly from our hearts, He would be able to lead us into intimacy with Him. I had to begin at my conference room table because that is where I was but that is not where we meet any longer. He will always meet you at your point of need, if you let Him but the initiative and control always belongs to us.

How convinced is your heart that Father loves you? You know it in your head, sure, but does your innermost self feel His affection? Can you wrap words around His love for you or does your internal mechanism choke if you try to speak about His love? Do you know that God loves you more than your spouse, children and grandchildren do? That’s big but you should be able to feel that inside of you so that you are so sure that you would bet anything on it. I hope you will give this some thought today and maybe you can have a chat with Dad about it too. Certainly talk with Jesus if you have any reservations.

Shine the Light

Psalm 43: 3        TPT

Pour into me the brightness of your daybreak!
Pour into me your rays of revelation-truth!
Let them comfort and gently lead me onto the shining path,
showing the way into your burning presence,
into your many sanctuaries of holiness.

Isn’t this beautiful? Can you see Father pouring His light into you, filling you with the light of revelation truth? Wow! That is an image to ponder. That shining light leads us from the inside out. I find that fascinating but also rational. Yahweh’s light within us leads us into all truth. It leads us onto the shining path. Lovely!

It is no big surprise that the shining path leads into the very presence of God. Jesus said he was the light (John 8: 12). He also said he is the way (John 14: 6). The way to what or whom? As “Christians” we sometimes focus so much on the Christ that we forget that he is the way to the Father. He is the light which always leads us to the Father. However, God’s light and revelation truth do more for us. They comfort us.

Did you know your Dad is in the comfort and encouragement business? A friend of mine was recently teaching about angels from her book, Everyday Angels (Kayembe, glorywaves.org). What I found so interesting is how she explained why angels in the Bible so often began their encounter with people with the words, “Do not be afraid.” She explained it was because these people were in troubling, even frightening, situations so the first thing the angels did was to comfort them. Can’t you picture God on His throne, dispatching an angel saying, “Go encourage them, tell them all is okay.”  That’s because He comforts and encourages us.

The light also protects you for where there is the light, there can be no darkness. We must endeavor to let God fill us to overflowing with His light. In His light is warmth, security and revelation. His burning presence must be like sitting by a warm fire on a cold day while reading a good book. It nurtures us, inside and out.

Bask in Dad’s glorious sanctuary today. Sit with Him by the fireplace and fill up on His voice and His presence. Let His light saturate your cells and even your DNA. Be restored in His presence by the light of His glory and revelation. And have a truly Great Day!

No More Pain

Psalm 30: 1, 5               God’s Word

Verses 7 – 8, 10 – 11    Passion Translation

I will honor you highly, O Lord, because you have pulled me out of the pit. Weeping may last for the night, but there is a song of joy in the morning. I was panic-stricken and became depressed. Still I cried out to you, Lord God. I shouted out for mercy. So hear me now, Lord; show me your famous mercy. O God, be my Savior and rescue me! Then he broke through and transformed all my wailing into a whirling dance of ecstatic praise! He has torn the veil and lifted from me the sad heaviness of mourning. He wrapped me in the glory garments of gladness.

This psalm is full of praise, but it also reveals the intense mourning and emotional torment that David endured. One side of the coin may be praise but often the other side is tumultuous challenge and seemingly insurmountable problems. Reading it immediately made me think of all the hurting people in the world, people who are depressed and even suicidal and my heart, like yours, grieves for these people. I want to say, “Fear not, joy comes in the morning.” The NASB version of verse 5 says that a shout of joy comes in the morning. That’s big. Though the night may be spent in tears, there is hope, there is salvation and the situation will improve.

We sometimes limit Jesus’ scope of salvation to deliverance from sin and hell. Salvation means so much more to Jesus than simply eternal life with him. He is our savior in every single situation in this life. When you comprehend the richness of salvation and eternal life you understand that you are living your eternal life now. It isn’t that we will die and be reborn to eternal life. You are there now, we all are. So, this salvation of which David writes is the deliverance from grief, the release from mourning. It is the hope of a new day, a day which is full of promise and even resurrection. Each day is so new that it truly is a beginning and one thing we know about life, things constantly change. Life is not static. Therefore, though there are huge problems now, ultimately things will alter. For every problem, there is a solution. For every grief there is joy. That seems impossible when one is overwhelmed by grief, but it really is true. David could tell you it’s true and many other people as well.

Why did Jesus tell us to go and share the good news of the gospel? I believe the core of that answer is so that he could save people from the hopelessness of their present situations. We know that God gave his only son so that none should perish but rather that all should pertain to eternal life in paradise with Him (John 3: 16). God took care of eternal life. He has already done what needed doing in order to save us all from eternal damnation. God did that. It was His job. Now, we have a job to do. Jesus told us to go into all the world and share the good news of the gospel. To me that means sharing a lot more than one verse. Sure, tell all people about John 3: 16 and how the Father sacrificed His son and sent him to hell so that we would be spared. Just don’t stop there. Jesus said of himself that he came into the earth to give us life and that more abundantly (John 10: 10). He came to give us a full life, to save us from the train wreck that many of us have made of our lives here on earth. What I am trying to get you to see is that salvation and the good news of the gospel is so much bigger than a singular event, extraordinary though it is.

Jesus wants to save us in our frustrations, from our anger, he wants to heal the emotional scars we carry around, save us from our deepest depression and restore us to joy. Jesus is the joy of the earth. You cannot be in him and with him and depressed. He is glory itself. He is the lifter of our heads. That is good news. He is the lover of our souls. He lifts us even when it feels like the sun won’t rise in the morning. There is no problem which he cannot overcome.

I think our job is to go out and tell people the good news about God and Jesus and how much they love us so that they will not face hopelessness and so they will know they are never alone. Everyone needs to be loved by a love that is so sublime that it is breath to our lungs and health to all our bodies. Jesus is life, there is no life without him (John 14: 6). He has given a piece of himself to every human being so that they might have love, life, and hope. If we will go into the world and simply tell them the good news about a benevolent being who loves them and is powerful enough to save them from whatever torment they encounter, then I pray and believe there will be no suicide in the earth. We have the antidote for depression. God loves us, each and every one. He gave His only son as a sacrificial lamb. That has to stand for something. He didn’t do that because He is ambivalent towards us. Furthermore, He did that for a people who did not know Him, who did not love Him.

Please, send this to anyone you know who needs to hear the good news about being devoutly loved. Share the love and joy of the Holy One, not just so you can get them into heaven, but so they can have some relief right here and right now. There is no reason people have to suffer. Jesus is their saving grace for today, for tonight, for the dark times and the dark places. He is the light, the light of hope. And, say a prayer for everyone who is hurting. Ask the Lord of grace to shine his light more brightly through each one of us so that all, and I do mean all, may know there is a God and that He loves them immensely.

In Him

Psalm 19: 11        Passion

For they warn us, his servants, and keep us from following the wicked way, giving a lifetime guarantee: great success to every obedient soul!

We all want great success, don’t we? In this, the eleventh verse, King David points out that all that he has written in the previous ten verses comes to a head here. In verse ten we learned that nothing brings the soul such sweetness as seeking God’s living words. Why? Because they warn us, keep us, bring us success with a lifetime guarantee. Do you see how this flows together?

God’s living words, understandably, have life in them. That life, which actually is Jesus (John 14: 6), has success and prosperity built in. Look at Jesus’ life. Do you remember how he recruited his team? He said, “Follow me.” And they did. How is that for charisma? That is success. He didn’t strive or fret. Success was built in and guaranteed for life.

I find that sometimes we balk at language such as “the wicked way.” Can I just say that we can reframe that as we read it to prevent our stumbling? The wicked way isn’t just about sinning and no one, including Yahweh, thinks you practice sinning. His words, His living words lead us in the “right” way. Remember verse nine from yesterday which said that every command from the Lord is right? So, His commands, His words lead us in the right way. Now follow this chain one step further – they lead us in righteousness. Okay, don’t stumble here either. Righteousness is not the same as holiness. We are talking about being in the right place with God, being in your right place. When you follow God’s words, instructions and commands, you end up in the right place. That is how simple righteousness is. You have heard me quote this scripture many times, “He made the One who knew no sin to become a sin offering on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God,” (2 Corinthians 5: 21 Tree of Life Version). This means that we have become the righteousness of God, right? That is what is says. It says something else too, though. We are the righteousness of God in him. In whom? In Jesus. Our righteousness is in Christ Jesus. So, if we are not in him, are we the righteousness of God? No. It is only in Jesus that we are righteous. Going one step further in the logic today. Who is Jesus but the Word? Therefore, we are right back to this verse from King David. God’s living Word keeps us righteous. We are in the right place when we are in Jesus. We are kept from the wicked way and preserved.

All it takes is an obedient soul. We must actively involve ourselves with the Living Word who is the Christ our saving grace. It is so simple a child can do it but incredibly complex in the mechanics of the miracle God has wrought for us in Jesus. Let’s keep it simple though. Seek the Lord. Seek the living words of God’s Living Word. He is the miracle of our guaranteed success. There is no striving, no stress, no worry. There is only Christ and him crucified. In Him you have all you need, all you desire. In Him – those are words to live by. Amen.

Sure Steps

Psalm 17: 4 – 5                  Passion

Following your word has kept me from wrong.
Your ways have molded my footsteps, keeping me
from going down the forbidden paths of the destroyer.

5 My steps follow in the tracks of your chariot wheels,
always staying in their path,
never straying from your way.

We are Word people, are we not? If not, then we need to make a decision, today, that we will become those who follow the Word of God because the Word guides us and protects us. David told us in Psalm 12 that every word God speaks is sure and true. Here he reveals that abiding in God’s words is a refuge and a guide. Following God’s teachings kept David’s foot on the path of success and safety because His words are always sure and true.

It is reasonable to suppose, that when we follow in God’s footsteps, or in this case the tracks of His chariot wheels, then we are going to avoid the snare of the destroyer, keeping ourselves out of harm’s way and trouble. God’s Word keeps us in the Father’s ways instead of the ways of destruction.

This is not just about wickedness and sin. That is likely what many hear. The bigger picture is God’s way is sure. There is safety in His way and His way is His Word. Jesus said, “I am the way,” (John 14: 6). John 1: 1 reveals Jesus as the Word. Therefore, to follow Jesus, to follow in the way is to follow the Word. Nothing else will do.

If you want to keep yourself from trouble, let the Word mold your steps. There is one other thing you can do as well. Verse 3 reads, “I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.” It you want to prevent yourself from going down the forbidden paths and out of the mouth of the devourer, then you will also want to make the Words of your mouth follow God’s Word. Most of us trip over our tongues. Keeping ourselves safe, protected and prosperous is accomplished by keeping ourselves in God’s Word and His Word in our mouths. He is our shield and refuge, but it is we who must don his protection by abiding in His Words. Following in His footsteps is as easy as following His words.

Life – Chai

John 14: 6

I am . . . the life.

My friend told me that the number 18 in Hebrew means “life” so, since today is the eighteenth, it is the day of life. The word “chai” means life, or alive. I like to think it means “fully alive.” Let’s celebrate life today.

Jesus is the life, he is who gives us life. When we were dead in our trespasses, he came and gave us life, his life. This Jewish concept of Chai, then, is very significant to Christians. Of course, let us not forget that Jesus is Jewish. For that matter, so are you because you have been adopted into the family of Abraham.

Jesus also said he is the truth. The truth is, there is no life without Jesus. When we were Gentiles, we thought otherwise, but life and the fullness thereof, is only found in the life devoted to and in Christ. As you have undoubtedly noticed, this ministry’s slogan is “Intertwined with Jesus.” The reason is that everything to do with life is tied up in Jesus. We have a mission to go into all the world and tell people the good news about Jesus, that he came to bring us abundant life (John 10: 10). The thing which concerns me, though, is that many of us are not living the life Jesus came here to give us, the life he won for us.

Life should be full. It embraces physical health, financial solvency, rewarding relationships, spiritual nourishment and meaningful work. It means adventure and fulfillment in the Spirit and joy unspeakable. All good things are in Christ and it is this fullness of life that he came to give us. Anything less than everything is a debit in the life column. My heart is with Jesus in this. I want you to have fulness of life. Today is a good day to reach out for all Jesus has for you. It is a great day to receive fulness of life and the perfect day to thank our God for sending life to us.

Lift your glass and celebrate with me. L’chaim – To life.

Pinocchio

Philippians 2: 12

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Do you remember the Disney movie Pinocchio? I had it on last week and was struck, as never before, with the commonality between that little wooden headed boy and Christians.

The story goes that Geppetto, a wood carver by trade, made the little wooden puppet. He wished, though, that this little puppet could be a real boy. The blue fairy heard Geppetto’s wish and because he had given so much joy to other people she visited his house to grant his wish. She waved her magic wand and the puppet came to life. Hallelujah!

Do you see the parallel there with us and Jesus? When we were dead, nothing but inanimate wooden heads, he came and gave us life (John 10: 10). But wait, there is more to the story. The blue fairy explained to Pinocchio that it was because Geppetto wished for a real boy that she came to give him life. Upon hearing this, Pinocchio asked, “Am I a real boy?” The blue fairy told him, “No,” that becoming a real boy would depend upon him. He had to prove himself truthful, brave and unselfish, and to learn right from wrong to become a real boy. Interestingly, she didn’t say that he had to “do” right rather than “wrong”. That is implied. The key was in learning the right way from the wrong way. It is not instinctive. We, like Pinocchio, have to learn.

Pinocchio’s task was monumental, almost insurmountable, but the fairy didn’t leave him on his own to learn all of these important lessons. He would have been destined to fail. She gave him a helper. His name was Jiminy Cricket. We too have been given a helper. Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever (John 14: 6). We have been told to be transformed (Romans 12: 2) but like Pinocchio, our task would be impossible if not for the Holy Spirit, our helper.

We have another similarity with Pinocchio. Jesus came and gave us life but it is up to us to become real Christians. We have the life, but we have to be transformed into “real boys” through our own walk with our helper. When we do not listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we end up in the same kind of trouble that Pinocchio found when he did not heed the advice of Jiminy Cricket. Because of his own actions, Pinocchio was being transformed into a jackass. I am afraid that comparison is far too close for comfort.

Many of us have thought that once we accepted Jesus as Lord, we were done. We concluded we could go on living like Pinocchio’s worldly friend, Lampley, without reaping the consequences. Wrong! The salvation prayer is akin to what happened when the blue fairy gave Pinocchio life. From there we should have received advice like she gave Pinocchio. It is up to you to become a real boy. Prove yourself truthful, brave and unselfish; learn right from wrong and you will be transformed into the very image that Geppetto, the Father, has for you.

We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling but we are not alone in this or any other endeavor. God didn’t tell us to be transformed and then we would be saved. No! He saved us, gave us life and then gave us His very own Spirit to be our guide, our conscience, if you will. We will never be transformed without his help. We cannot do this work in our own strength or else we would have created a prettier version of ourselves long ago. But here’s the rub, he cannot do it without us either. This is always a cooperative effort.

I hope you take your own transformation seriously. I hope you seek the heart and mind of God to discover where He wishes to lead you. The road is far better when we follow the advice and leading of the Holy Spirit. If you don’t believe me, go watch Pinocchio and see how it turns out. Spoiler Alert: the secret is in learning to be unselfish.