Fill the Tank

John 5: 19

Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”

Yesterday we read 1 Corinthians 13: 3 – 7 which is commonly known as the love chapter. The Message version certainly brought out some interesting and key highlights. It put the passage into plain language for us which makes the scripture very easy for us to understand and relate to. It also makes it difficult for us to ignore though. We cannot intellectually duck below the radar, avoiding those challenging sections.

In yesterday’s Word of the Day I encouraged you to live according to 1 Corinthians 13. It was a bit unfair of me to implore you to do something without giving you the “How To” instructions so today I am going to give you the secret to living in love exactly the way Jesus did.

Some of you, when you read yesterday’s Word of the Day, made a commitment to live the love walk. You made a decision to adopt 1 Corinthians 13 as your lifestyle. Let me tell you though, this is not something you can accomplish by an act of your will. It is too big and we are not strong enough in ourselves for such a herculean effort but I do admire you greatly for you commitment to the Father.

Truly there is only one way to live the love commandment. So here is the big reveal. If you take this one big secret and integrate it into your life you will have the keys to The Kingdom. Okay – the secret is that you must receive the love of God. God is love (1 John 4: 8). In order to live love you must receive love. How can we say we have received God if we have not received love?  The two are inseparable.

May I be honest with you a moment? I see so many Christians whose life is far from characterized by love. You can see the hurt in them. And subsequently, hurt is all they have to share. Whatever you have within you is what you will communicate to others. We dedicate our lives to God. We do service to Him or for Him but far too few of us ever allow God to actually penetrate our beings; too few bare their hearts to the Father and allow Him to move in and set up house. Even those of us who allow God in don’t let Him arrange the furniture or mend the drapes. We keep Him as a guest and sequester Him to certain rooms. This is not a criticism. It is simply experience. It is the experience of a great number of Christians. So we try to live the love commandment but we don’t have the love to give. We have not received it so we cannot give it.

Look at your life and ask this question, “Would those around me say that I demonstrate the love of God?” Don’t entertain your own opinion because it is likely skewed. Would your children say that above all else you are a lover? What about your spouse? Now, don’t condemn yourself if the honest answer is that you are not expressing the level of love that you imagine God wants for you. I suspect for most of us that will be the response. The solution, though, is not to re-dedicate yourself to the love commandment. The real answer is to humble yourself before the Father and ask Him to fill you with His love. Ask Him to touch the broken places and minister His healing. Then tomorrow, you can do the same thing. This is a journey rather than a onetime experience. We heal in bits, we receive the fullness of God’s love in doses. Fill up as much as you can today and then receive more tomorrow. There is no end to the vastness of the Father’s love.

If you wish to walk in the earth as Jesus did then you must use his formula. He received everything from the Father and then gave it away. We can walk as Jesus walked but only if we have the same power at work within us. That power is the love of the Father. Fill up you tank today.

Enemies of Love

Psalm 139: 20

For they speak against Thee wickedly, and Thine enemies take Thy name in vain.

This verse strikes me as outlandish. David is talking with God and says that people speak wickedly against God and that His enemies profane His name. Well, let’s start with speaking against God. We know it is true that people speak against God but honestly, doesn’t that just sound insane? I mean, think about it for a moment, why would anyone do that and what would they say. Then it struck me. Even Christians say horrific things about God. They talk about God making them sick and beating them up. They develop all kinds of theories that sound pretty spiritual but in the end is a bunch of bunk. They speak wickedly against God. And you know what; it makes me kinda crabby to hear it, probably because I used to do the same thing. I thought God was the one that caused my knee injuries and the good Christians I was around at the time said that it would make me stronger. Well, it made me strong alright; so strong and so stone like that there was very little tenderness left. In fact, I was so strong and so fortified that I couldn’t even hear or feel God. Perhaps, it wasn’t God afterall. Why would He do something that would ultimately separate me from Him? Is He stupid? I don’t think so.

And then there is the part where David talks about God’s enemies. Really, God has enemies? Who in their right mind wants to be an enemy of God? You see, the problem here is that we just don’t understand God in the least. God is love. He doesn’t just love people; He is love. You are made up of flesh and bone and He is made of love. So how in the world can anyone be an enemy of love? Okay, that is ridiculous. People get all philosophical about God and reason out all of these wonderful ideas but in the end they end up sounding like idiots because at the base of it all they are speaking against love and it takes an idiot to speak against love. The truth is that they are afraid. They are afraid that some kind of responsibility will fall on them if they acknowledge their father. They may have to start being nice to folks or extending some generosity. Oh heaven, He might ask them to become givers and bless some other people. It is just a fear based philosophy and anything that has its root in fear is corrupt and corrosive. 

I want to be a friend of God and I want people to know that He is nice. Maybe if we talk nice about God people will get a revelation. Perhaps if we demystify God and help people understand that He is here with us and available for a one on one relationship they will see Him as more than a vain philosophy and connect with love. We can pray that love will fill them and minister life and joy to them. I think that would make the world a much nicer place for all people.

God Remembers

Psalm 98: 3                NIV

He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

God has not forgotten His first love; the house of Israel. He is faithful to Israel even today. Israel was the seed that was supposed to germinate and spread the love of God throughout the earth so that all would know of the coming of the Messiah. Perhaps Israel didn’t fulfill the entirety of its commission but the Lord’s faithfulness endures. It was not dependent on the faithfulness of men but rather on the love of God. And God’s love has expanded to the ends of the earth so that it fills every nation and every people even if those people do not acknowledge the love and faithfulness of God. 

This verse has a present tense and a prophetic tense about it. It declares that the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of God already. That is because God has filled the earth with life, truth and love. Even the ground and plants have been saturated with God’s faith and love. This has been so since the beginning. If God’s faithfulness and love were absent then there would be no life and scientists find life in the most remote places, even places where it was once thought that no life could exist. Life is the product of the love of God. Where there is love, there is life and vice versa.

The prophetic sense of this passage looked forward to the first coming of Christ and even the second coming. Salvation is extended to all who will receive. There is no person on earth that is precluded from the love of God and the resultant salvation. Even where no preacher has gone and preached, there is the knowledge of God. He has put into the heart of every person the knowledge of Himself. He has catalogued the mountains and streams as a testament to His presence. The world around us testifies to His existence even where no person has carried the gospel. His faithfulness has ordained the coming of the Christ to bring salvation to the world and His love is reaching to the ends of the earth. And where no minister of the gospel has gone before God is laying a foundation right now so that no one will perish without having heard the Word of the Lord.  

God is not trying to keep people out of heaven. He is endeavoring to get them into heaven. He is faithful to the small and large and to the ends of the earth. Salvation has come. The saving grace of the Lord is and has filled the earth. We may openly partake of salvation from everything which seeks to hinder us. God’s salvation saves completely. He is faithful in the small things and the large things. Let salvation touch your household today and then by the grace invested in you by the Holy Spirit of God, extend that grace to all without reservation.

Jesus Reveals Himself

John 14: 21, 23 – 24

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

What powerful words from our Lord Jesus! One thing you might find interesting is discovering how many times the Lord spoke about words. It is quite fascinating. In this passage Jesus makes an outstanding promise to us. To paraphrase; if we will keep Jesus’ commandments then he and the father will love us AND Jesus will show himself to us. Those seem like enormously great promises. One of the techniques you can use in helping you glean fullness from scriptures is to look at the reward and work backward. I want Jesus and the Father to love me. I want Jesus to reveal himself to me so all I have to do is to look backward and I can see what I need in order to see that promise fulfilled. It is honoring the words of Jesus that yield the reward. We begin by reading our Bibles but we do not stop there. Reading the Bible is great but think about it for a moment, a lot of folks read the Bible who are not Christians. That which makes us Christians is the implementation of what we read in the Bible.

We can work backward in the second part of the passage as well. When we do so we discover that those who do not obey Jesus’ teachings do not love him. This might cause us each to pause and consider our ways. Are we following Jesus’ teachings? If we do not then do we really love Jesus? Do we say we love Jesus but fail to do the things that show that love? Has our love grown cold? 

These verses certainly cause me moments of quiet contemplation. We might very well ask, “What are these words, teachings and commandments that we are supposed to be obeying.” Well, I say start with the red letters and work your way out. Every word in the Bible is divine because Jesus is the word. He has given us each of the books of the Bible in order to teach us vital lessons, sometimes even what not to do. When all is said and done, though, you will find all of Jesus’ teachings encapsulated in the One Commandment, the commandment of love but it takes the whole book including the divine revelations given to Paul and John for us to even know what love means much less how to walk in a command to love.

Further, when we understand that Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus then we should embrace immediately Jesus’ statement that the words that he speaks are not his own. He spoke what he heard the father speak. This is a good model for us as well. Once we learn what Jesus spoke and how he spoke, once we connect with Jesus inside of us, then perhaps we can say that the words we speak are not our own but rather those given us by our savior and Lord.  

Ultimately, when we heed the words that Jesus gave us, the words of life, then we experience the life of Christ growing within us. When we honor his commandments with obedience we give permission for our life in Christ to swell and fill us. As we give way from our ideas to God’s ways the love of God and of His dear son fill us and we will see Jesus revealed to us. More importantly, others will see Jesus revealed through us. Amen.