Looking for Love

Matthew 7: 7

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.

Many times I have asked the Father what He wanted me to preach on or to write about and the answer is always the same – LOVE. Above all else the message He wants communicated to all people is that He loves them. That is what He wants to tell you – that He loves you.

“Yeah, I know that,” you might say. I would ask you if you know that in your heart or in your head. Head knowledge about the Father’s love for us individually is almost insignificant. It is a beginning point but the knowledge of it will not change your life. It is the experience of God’s love that changes your life forever. You have heard the expression, “One touch from God will change your life forever.” That touch is a heart touch. It means that when God touches your heart you are forever changed. He doesn’t touch your thoughts or your intellect and those who are trying to live out of their intellect are fooling themselves. 

God is a heart God. Love is of the heart. None the less, many of us try to know God through our minds. You can know about God, but you can’t know God until you engage with Him at a heart level. Believe me, I was no happier to learn this truth than some of you but I am very glad that Yahweh, Father loved me enough to pursue me until I found my way. I was sincere in wanting to be close with Him so He kept pointing me in the right direction. Eventually I found the truth and that meant that I was going to have to surrender my heart and my emotions to Him. I had to let Him in to the deepest part of me and I found that was not my mind.

Now then, what does this have to do with today’s verse? Well, so many times we read this verse in terms of things we want or need or thinking of prayers we want answered. What if that for which you were seeking and asking was God Himself? Imagine that you can knock, and He will open for you. Ask for Him and He will come running. Seek Him and you will find Him. Above all the things we could seek, ask for or pursue, there is no prize greater than the Father. 

In order to know Him we must receive and know His love. When we seek Him and open our hearts to Him, He pours Himself into our lives. To seek Him is to seek love and to find Him is to find love. He wants you to not only know that He loves you but He wants you to experience His love in a very personal way. Won’t you let Him reveal His true nature to your heart in a greater way today? Will you open yourself to receiving the fullness of Him? He is waiting.

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.

The Bottom Line

1 Corinthians 13: 3-7      (The Message Bible)

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love is the bottom line. God is love and the only way that we are truly going to reflect the image of Christ and become like Him as we say we wish to, is to major on love. We must arrest ourselves when we feel ourselves acting in a way that is inconsistent with the above text. We should repent when we find that we have contravened any of the guiding principles we see in this passage. Only then can we begin to turn ourselves to a life that is governed by the rule of love. This is no small task. Rather it is likely the most difficult journey any of us will ever make. Yet because we love the Lord, we will strive to be like Him in this most vital way. Because He first loved us, we are willing, and even desire to walk a life of love for His name’s sake.

Position Available

Ephesians 4: 11 – 12

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.

These are called the five-fold ministries and God calls people to these offices. What I found so interesting about this list is that only one of these ministerial offices is directed towards people outside of the church and, of course, that would be the evangelist. Verse 12 tells us that God gave these offices, and people to fill them, in order to equip the church for her work. In other words, the saints, or the laity, are being equipped for the work of the church. You are the body of Christ.

Jesus told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Luke 16:15) but then when he gave the ministerial offices he gave four that were designed more for the church and only one specifically for the unsaved. These offices are appointed to equip us to go into all the world and preach the gospel. They are designated to teach us and build us up. But we are not supposed to only absorb the teachings for ourselves. We are meant to be the distributors of the good news of Jesus Christ. Now how do we do that? Well, this specifically means that we were not all called to preach since we are not all called into one of the five-fold ministries. But we are all called and equipped for “the work of service.” Your calling might be as a school teacher or a hair dresser. Or maybe you are a doctor or work in a laundry. You are the word of the Lord that is sent into the world and you are going to interact with a lot more people than the pastor at your church.  

You are the one who will be there when a co-worker has trouble. You will be the one they see day in and day out. You don’t have to preach at them. Just let the love of God show in what you do. Be loving and compassionate. Do your job with vigor and honesty. Let them see how a child of the most high behaves. Let the light, who is Jesus, inside you shine. It’s not about telling other people what they should do. It is about being who you should be and allowing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22) to manifest in your daily life. That is how people will be saved, by love. Because God so loved, he gave . . . (John 3: 16).

Big Guns

Matthew 5: 44

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

Okay, now we are talking about serious spiritual warfare. This verse doesn’t look like warfare though, does it? None the less, this is where the rubber meets the road. When the enemy is all around you and it feels like even the house is falling down on you then start praying. Sometimes the pressure on you is so heavy that it is hard to pray. I understand that. Just come up with something real simple that you can say each time you feel overwhelmed. Here is an example, “Father, I forgive them and ask you to forgive them. I pray that you bless them and meet their needs.” Then every time that feeling comes in your gut just turn your thoughts to our beloved Father and pray those words.

Jesus gave this scripture for us, not for them. He said “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33 NIV). This is one of the ways that he is leading us from trouble to overcoming. Trouble comes but Jesus is our victory. He has already provided the means of triumph. He spent his time on earth teaching us those means. So when you read that you should pray for your enemies, take heart because Jesus is leading you to the victory. Glory!

Spiritual Requirements

Micah 6: 8

He has told you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

It turns out that it really isn’t all that difficult to figure out how to be a good Christian. We have the words of Jesus. We listen to his words and do them. Even in the Old Testament days, before Jesus was manifested in the earth, God sent His word to guide us. Through the prophet Micah God revealed His will for us; walk humbly with our God, do justice and extend lovingkindness. Now what is difficult about that? 

Notice that God said to walk “with” Him. That is interesting. Many times I hear people say, “Walk humbly before your God,” but that is not what God said. His directive to us is to walk “with” Him. 

Secondly, be a just person. You can decide for yourself what that means but at a simple level it means to be fair to people. That is not really a difficult concept. I hear people say so often, “Well, life isn’t fair,” and they use that as justification to treat people unfairly. My response is, “Try to sell that land to God.” I don’t think He will buy that argument. He is a fair God and He requires us to treat people fairly as well. 

Last, be a kind person. Be kind to others. This one requirement is so broad, so vast in scope that it will cause us to reflect the essential nature of God in everything we do. Kindness is generated through love. In every single human interaction, be kind. That means be kind to your spouse, your children, your boss, your employees, the guy who cuts the grass, the woman who cleans the house, the clerk at the store, and on and on. Think of all of the people you come in contact with during a single day. Some of them you may not even particularly like but if you are a child of God you will show lovingkindness to every single one of them.

Divinely Powerful

2 Corinthians 10: 3 – 4

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

How easy it is to forget that, although we are in this world, we are not to war according to the world. But wouldn’t we really rather have divinely appointed weapons anyway? Paul is reminding his readers that we are not to walk according to the flesh and we are not to fight our battles in the flesh or as we learned to do. We are to learn a new way to wage war. That is in the Spirit. We wage war in the Spirit through prayer and by speaking the Word of God. Every time we speak a verse of the Bible over a situation, we are waging Spiritual war.

If you have a mountainous challenge before you right now, set your heart and mind to use your most powerful arsenal, use the divinely appointed weapons of the Spirit. They are prayer, God’s word and love. We do not want to hear that last one but it is the nuclear bomb of spiritual weaponry. You are allowed to use this bomb. Whatever challenge or enemies you are facing today, remember to pull out the big guns. Don’t fight your battles in the flesh. Use the weapons that God Almighty has provided you.