Archive for the ‘Obedience’ Category

“Perfect love casts out fear”

May 27, 2017

We have heard this often when “fear” is mentioned or talked about. At first, this seems to be a “cure-all for fear”. Any time we fear anything, perfect love takes it all away, right? It also has been said that “perfect love is God’s love”. While this is a true statement, it leaves us questioning just what God’s love is, or more important, what is “perfect love?”. To understand what it is that casts out fear we must understand what exactly is perfect love. For when we see (understand) this, we are then on the road to overcoming fear. As always, we need to go no further than God’s word to understand it. He has given us His Spirit, and thereby together with His word, we understand.

The apostle John, who beneath Jesus, understood “love” like no other. And where better need we go then to his love letter to “little children” (the church, brother’s and sisters in Christ).

Our main text is found in 1st John 4:18.

“There is no fear in love: but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment.  He who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

First, we need to get some word definitions in their original Greek language for “fear”, “love”, “perfect”, “casts”, and “torment”. Word study is key into getting understanding of a particular verse or passage.

Our first word is “fear”. Just what kind of fear was John talking about here? The word is “phobos” .  This is where we get the word “phobia” from, which is commonly known as an anxiety disorder. “Phobos” comes from the word “phebomal”, which means “to be put in fear”; alarm or fright – be afraid + exceedingly, fear, terror” . Here we see that this kind of fear is at the top of the chart, so to speak. It’s dreadful, frightening, and haunting. Can you see how this type of fear could work havoc in our lives? Talk about not having “peace”. Talk about something that would keep you bound up and keep you stifled. This would be it to the max. Yet how many live their lives this way? Also, for those of us that think it never comes knocking on our door, consider this. All worrying can be traced back to “fear”. And if we are honest, we all worry from time to time. It might be ever so small, yet it’s  still worry.

Our second word is the most often word used, liked, and talked about more than any other word. Ah yes…..”Love”. But just what kind of love is the apostle John referring to here? This is extremely important for us in this world of everything falling under “love”. Love everybody, love everything, be it right or wrong, just love, love, love, right? Well, this kind of love is way different. The word is “agape”, which means, “i.e affection, or benevolence (disposition to do good, an act of kindness, a generous gift)”. John further spells this out in his discourse on love by teaching us that God’s agape love is a sacrificial love that was exemplified by the giving of His Son for the sacrifice for our sins. Thus John went on to say that because of this kind of love for us, “we ought to love one another”. (see 1Jn.4:7-11)

Our third word is “perfect”. This word can take on a lot of definitions. However, it is important to be reminded that we are talking here about “perfect love”. The word, “perfect” is key here, because it is the type of love that is necessary to “cast out fear”. Not just love, but perfect love. This word “perfect”, in the Greek is “teleios“. It means “complete, completeness”. A further study into the word comes up with “i.e. (literally) accomplish, or (figuratively), consummate”. Also, “the conclusion”. Here we can safely say that “perfect agape love” is a love that is complete, i.e. final, and conclusive. Sounds like there is no greater love than this, bar none, right?

Our next word is “casts” (or casteth, in the KJV ). In our text, it says that “perfect love casts out fear”. This is key because this is what perfect love does. It “casts out”. This word is “ballo”.  It means “to throw”. It has to do with “violent, or intense”. Also, “strike, or “thrust”. This word is not used as a little soft way of dealing with fear. It is intense. It leaves no room for “timidity”. There must be some power involved here. Something beyond our fleshly, easy way of dealing with things.

Our fifth and final word is “torment”. This word is huge because it is what “fear has”. You might say this is what fear produces, or this is its outcome, or fruit. In the Greek, the word is “kolasis”. Its meaning might surprise you. It has to do with “infliction”. And that of “penal infliction”. Penal? Yes. And it involves “punishment, penalties, or punitive institutions”. Most of us have heard the word for a prison as a “penal institution”. Considering this, it is safe to say that “fear” locks you up as if you are in a “penal institution”. Inside here there is punishment and infliction to be had and penalties to be paid for. This is not a place you would want to live your life in for sure. Yet how many do, day in, and day out?

Ok. Now that we get some better understanding of these five important words, let us now break down each verse that contains the word, “perfect”, or “perfected” love. It appears five times in 1st John. That’s actually quite a bit. This will unlock “perfect love”, and “love perfected”. This will lead us into application, i.e. how we are to live out this kind of love to overcome or prevent fear from coming into our lives.

Let’s first back up in the book of first John, and go to the 2nd chapter, verse 5. In this verse he is teaching just how it is that the “love of God is perfected in us”. And remember that this kind of love throws out (casts out) fear.

“But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know we are in Him.”                                                                                                                        

In context, the apostle John is referring to the keeping of the words of Christ. If we back up to the starting of this chapter, in verse 1, he is telling us that Jesus is our mediator. In verse 2, he states that Jesus is the “propitiation for our sins” and the whole world. Verse 3 is key into understanding that he is talking about the commandments of Christ because he says “by this (that Jesus was the sacrifice for our sins) we know Him. Verse 4 also states this as well. We will see more as we go that the commands of Christ are what we New Testament believers need to heed and follow.

So by keeping His commandments, His words, His doctrine, His teachings, the love of God is perfected in us. This brings up something that most Christians seemly have a hard time with. And what is that? “Obedience”. Somehow God’s grace takes away, or covers for our obedience? Well, if that’s the case, we mise well go upstairs and open the bedroom window and chuck the word of God out. Because His word is full of obedience that must be done by us if we are to be followers of Christ. A simple reading of the word will bring this to light. In fact, John later writes in 2nd John, verse 9, that if we do not abide (dwell) in Christ’s teachings, then we do not have God. Wow! That’s pretty heavy.

The words of Jesus speak for themselves……

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.” (Jn.14:21)

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word: and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.                                                                       “He who does not love Me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” (vs.23-24)

Here we see just how Jesus wants to be loved, and how God will love us, and how they will reveal themselves to us. This is often never taught or looked at. But it’s huge. This is Jesus commanding us here.

Now since we are looking here into just what is “perfect love”, and our text (1Jn.2:5) states that it has to do with keeping the words of Christ, it is necessary to hone in on a particular commandment in regards to this perfect love.

The apostle John makes this very clear when he speaks of God’s love being “perfected (completed) in us”“No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” (1Jn.4:12). This verse is pretty self-explanatory. The key? “Love one another”. And this is the commandment that Christ taught from the beginning. “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, (1Jn.3:11). John here is referring to Jesus when he gave this commandment. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another”. (Jn.13:34). He also, when teaching on “Love” and “Joy” being perfected, said this, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”. ( Jn.15:12). He goes on to say that there is no greater love than one giving their life for another. Loving one another through sacrificial love is “perfect love”, it is “agape love”.

Just how important is this commandment according to Jesus? Well, he addressed this question to one of the “Pharisees” as he asked, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”. Jesus replied with, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and the great commandment”. (Mt.22:36-38). Then Jesus goes on to say, “And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (vs.39). It is important to note the word here “like”. It means “similar”, and it comes from the Greek word “homos” which means “the same”. We can safely say that these two are to be combined, i.e. Love God, Love you neighbor. “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, he cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1Jn.4:20).

Jesus finishes answering the Pharisees question of “which is the great commandment in the law?” with “On these two commandments hang all the Law and Prophets.” The word “hang” here is very important. It means “suspend, summed up”. So if we want to talk and debate over commandments, we best get these two down. We could literally spend the rest of our days “obeying” this commandment. I say “this” because they are combined.

Ok. Let’s move on in this quest for “perfect love”. We have looked at two (1Jn.2:5, 4:12) of the five verses that deal with “perfect love” or “love made complete”. Our next verse is 1Jn.4:17. “Herein is love made perfect in us,”. I purposely stopped here at the first part of this verse. Why? Because, to get a proper understanding of what John is saying here we must look at context and back up to see what “Herein” is. In the five verses leading up to this verse, we see the word “dwelleth” (dwell). It has the same meaning as “abideth” (abide), which means “to stay”. Ok. So where does abide fit into perfect love?

Let’s read it. In verse 12, John says that If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. Then he says, “by this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us,”. By this? By what? By loving one another. It’s the out working of loving one another that His love is perfected in us. And through this we abide, or stay. He goes on to say that “because He (God) has given us His Spirit”Remembering that “it’s the Spirit that bears witness” (1Jn.5:6) to us to confirm everything that God has given. In the verse leading up to 1Jn.4:17, we see some more regarding “abiding” that leads to us understanding “perfect love”. John says that we have known and believed the love that God has for us, God is love,”. And what love is he referring to here? “that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another.” (1Jn. 4:10). Do you see the tie here? Loving because of what God did for us? “Herein is love!”The apostle John then finishes verse 16 with, “he who dwells (stays in) in love dwells in God, and God in him”. Bing! I think it’s safe to say that “perfect love” is loving because He first loved us, and thus, we love our neighbor as ourselves.

Now, we certainly can’t leave off here without finishing the last part of this verse 17. “that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as He is, so we are in the world”Here in the middle of the Apostle John’s discourse on love, he drops the word “boldness”. We must ask why? How is boldness tied into “love?”.

First, let’s look into this word. It is “parrhesia”, which by implication means “assurance”. It is also the same word as “confidence”. So we can say that by “abiding/dwelling” in Christ, i.e. abiding in his commandments, which namely is loving God through loving others, we will have assurance/confidence at His return. Yet, most importantly for the now, we can have this as we live out through love. And to add to this “boldness”, it also means, and has to do with, “speak”. Another definition is “all out-spokenness”. So when we our walking in His perfect love, i.e. living it out, we have out right boldness to “speak the truth in love”. Who by the way, was the perfect example of this bold love? You got it! The Christ! “because as He is, so are we in this world”.

Now, just after this look into “boldness”, guess what comes next? What would be one good word that would be the total opposite of boldness? Any suggestions? Our next and main verse has this word in it……

“FEAR”

Remember our main text for this study?

“There is no fear in love: but perfect love casts out all fear, because fear has torment. He who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

The apostle John starts off with a blanket statement here. He says that “there is no fear in love”. Remember that we are not just talking about any kind of love here. And what we mentioned at the beginning of this study, it’s not “worldly love”, or “fleshly love”. This is “agape love”. Through the studying of this kind of love, the teacher, i.e. the Holy Spirit, gave us this definition, “affectionate benevolence through sacrificial giving”. When this is in you, and you are living it out, fear will not be present. It cannot abide in the house where this perfect love takes up residence. So there is absolutely no need to even think on fear. It doesn’t even exist in this agape love. Period!

This agape love not only has “no fear” in it, but it “casts” it out. We must ask why did John put this here? If there is no fear in love, then why would it need to be cast out? Well, are you ready for this? Can your ultra spirituality take this on?

Fear does not abide in us if perfect love abides, right? However, we are all in this flesh. And we all get tempted with “fear”. It is just like the unlimited temptations that come upon us all the time. If you don’t think this is so, then take inventory of the last time you worried about something or someone. It’s a fact that worry can be traced back to fear. So this is why John brought up this “casting out”. If it wasn’t needful then he wouldn’t have brought it up. It absolutely needs to be addressed.

In simplicity, we can say that if we are abiding in Christ, and His words are abiding in us, and we are living them out through perfect love, then all temptations of fear will be casted out. “Perfect love casts out fear”. There is no fear in perfect love.

This verse 18 ends with, “But he who fears has not been made perfect in love”. Here we see that it is possible and needful to be made perfect in love. Another way to say this would be that it is possible and needful to be “completed” in love. Even though this agape love is to be a process for us to be lived out, it is, and has, already been completed in us through Christ in us. We have within us everything that is needed for life and godliness (2nd Peter 1:3). It is just up to us to use, so to speak, everything that we have been given, i.e. His perfect (completed) love within us. But we must walk it out, i.e. apply it to our everyday living through “loving one another”.

We end our study with verse 19 of 1st John. It is obvious that we are creatures that need to be reminded continually. In reality, isn’t the Holy scriptures a book written for our remembrance? And this being so, the apostle John states, “We love because He first loved us”. This is our continual reminder. This is why we love in the first place. This puts it all back into perspective. Do you remember what John said was love? “In this is love, …. He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins”(4:10). And, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” (Jn.3:16). And if this was so…… Then…..

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another”(1Jn.4:11).

We could go on in this study. There is much more to be found in the word of God regarding this “perfect love”. Actually, there is a whole lot more regarding “obedience” that ties right into this love. Jesus himself taught just how important obedience to His teaching was. A good study on this would be found in the gospel of John, chapters 14-15.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this study. We spent five weeks, hours upon hours, hammer and chisel in hand with the Word and Spirit. I hope and pray that you were blessed into understanding more of just what is “perfect love” and how it does “cast out fear”. Hopefully the next time that you are tempted to fear, you will apply perfect love into the situation and thus there will be no room for fear. Remember…… fear cannot abide in perfect love! God bless you!

 

 

 

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Disqualified in the race?

November 12, 2013

download         As a kid growing up with “stock car racing” in the family, I remember the “Black Flag”. If you were racing on the track and the official waived that flag as you went by, you were disqualified and you had to pull off the track and go to the pits immediately.

After the Apostle Paul had just finished writing about how he “became all things to all men that he might save some” and “for the gospel’s sake”, he then likens it to a “Race”.

If we have been born again, we are put into this race. We should look at this race as if “one is going to receive the prize”. We should thus run as one who is going to run in such a way that we will “obtain”, or “win the prize”.

In this race to win, there is no indication of sitting back folding the arms and enjoying the ride. If that were the case, then of course, one would not even be in the race in the first place. Sitting on the sidelines watching and doing nothing would be the case.

The Apostle Paul then lists the key to “obtaining the prize”. And what might that be?

TEMPERANCE. Basically, self-control. It is one of the “fruits of the Spirit”. He said that everyone who “competes for the prize”, or actually is in the race, is temperate in ALL THINGS. What! All things? Whoa!

And what might this “prize” be that he is referring to? It is an “imperishable crown”. Nothing of this world. This is not a literal crown. This is “THE CROWN OF LIFE”. It’s the crown that Jesus refers to that will be given to all those that will be “faithful unto death”. (Rev.2:10)

Paul goes on to say, that because of this, he runs “not with uncertainty”. There is NO not knowing where one is going. No haphazardly living involved here. One is to be “striving to win”. He likens it to a “fight”. It’s a battle. And if we are not in the race, there is NO battle, NO striving.

Fighting to win the crown of life. Not “effortless” living, but spiritual fighting, spiritual living.

He then closes his discourse with the main subject that he is referring to. “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection”. There is NO winning without discipline. Any coach will tell us that. And here, the Apostle Paul is coaching us. Not only here, but throughout God’s word we find almost unlimited references to spiritual discipline. We find how very important it is to keep our fleshly appetites at bay. Why? Because the Spirit wars against them. One is going to win. The question is, which one?

The bottom line is this. There can be NO winning the crown without discipline/temperance. NONE.

He sums up the reason why this is so important. Because all of us are “preaching” to other’s. We might not be up on the podium at church, or on the street corner preaching, but our lives are preaching to other’s everyday. They are watching and listening.

Would we want to become “disqualified” in this race?

(see 1Cor.9:19-27)

Hearing and obeying

August 22, 2012

“But this is what I commanded them, saying, “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.” (Jer. 7:23)

Can you see the personal call in this verse?

“and I will be  your God”. Yes, than it says, “and you shall be my people”. Many “yours” make up the “my people”, right?

Then it says, “and walk in all that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.”

Now of course, in this verse, the Lord of hosts (vs.21) is speaking about the children of Israel. He said, “But this is what I commanded them.”

But, for a collective people, or a body of people to be obedient to God, they must first have the individuals that are obedient individually before God, right? Collective obedience is made up of individual obedience.

“Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.” (vs. 24)

The word “obey” here in the Hebrew means, “to hear intelligently”. Hearing and being able to understand what one is hearing is the first step to being obedient. Without either, one cannot fulfill the command to be obedient. This call of obedience to God is for the believer who has been born of the Spirit. Without the first step of the new birth, one cannot “hear intelligently” to be obedient.

For the believer, the “hearing” is a practiced discipline. Jesus over and over said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”. He certainly wasn’t talking about physical ears. He was referring to spiritual hearing. With all the distractions in the world today, it’s not easy to hear. But, hearing we must have if we are to be obedient. If Satan can get us to not “Hear”, than he knows that we will not obey. He is satisfied with no obedience. Why? Then he knows that God’s will, will not be carried out in the earth, individually and collectively.

After hearing, and hearing clearly, which involves getting quiet and alone with God, comes the understanding. And once we understand, we are obligated to fulfill the command of which we understand. By hearing and understanding, then doing (or the acting out) that which we hear and know, then it produces the will of God in our lives.

Doing the word which we hear and understand produces obedience which lends itself to the blessings of God.

Not only doers of the written word, but to be reminded that the Holy Spirit speaks from within, to those who have been born of His Spirit which resides in our hearts. So we should be continually hearing and developing an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to us as individuals. Of course, it will never contradict the written word.

So in closing, personal obedience to God through his Spirit, produces a “going forward” in living out the will of God in our lives. If each one who has been born of His Spirit, would make this a top priority as individuals before God, then when we come together as a body, the power of the Holy Spirit would fall on all those present.

“to obey is better than sacrifice,”

I want to obey Him, right? There should be no “have to” involved.

Can we say that we want to please our Father?

Overcoming all fear

October 27, 2011

By keeping (obeying) the words/commands of Christ, the love of God can be made perfect in us. (see 1Jn.2:5). When the “love of God is perfected in us” all fear is cast out. We then have confidence/boldness in this world. (see 1Jn.4:17-18). By abiding in the commands of Christ, we abide in His love. (see Jn.15:9-17).

Why did God give us his Son? (Part 1)

May 18, 2011

To be able to understand “Why”, one must begin at the beginning. The beginning of mankind.

Our question comes from the most popular verse in the Bible, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (Jn.3:16)

Mankind has to do with “the world” and “whoever” in this above verse.

Originally, man was made in the “image” of God. The word here has to do with “resemblance”. So we can say that man was made as a “representative figure” of God. We can say that God wanted to express himself in human form. So He did.

He also created mankind with the ability to choose (free-will), just like God himself. God is not a robot, neither are we. This gift of God can be greatly used for good, and it can also be greatly used for evil. When one considers this gift, and for what and how it can be used, it’s no wonder that man can end up where he or she has chosen. Is it not all a product or consequence of free-will? Our ability to choose comes with it, the circumstance or consequence of our choice, be it good or bad.

Making wrong choices that one knows (key word) not to make, is sin.

In the beginning, the first man Adam, was given one command from God. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (bad) you shall not eat of it, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall die.” (Gen.2:16-17) Here God gave the one command to Adam, and also the one consequence of he disobeyed.

Disobeying what God commands is sin. He is just and fair, and is also a personal God. He through the Spirit, convicts of sin. As I always say, “don’t worry, the Spirit will show you personally what is wrong, or what is sin”. His word (the Bible), has some definitions of sin. (Pr.14:21,24:9 – Rom.14:23, Ja.4:17, 1Jn.3:4, 5:17) However, when trying to understand the “basics of Sin”, one needs to go no further than the beginning of man. Herein lies, the foundation of “Sin”.

Remember, we trying to understand why God gave us his Son.

Learning through discipline

November 13, 2010

Having your finances dry up and noticing the power of the Holy Spirit not flowing through you like it did before, usually is enough for me to wake up and take notice.

” No discipline seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Heb.12:11)

Recently, I have come under a lot of discipline lately for my known disobedience. It has been difficult to suffer through it. I knew from the beginning, what it was that He has disciplined me for. Just this last week, He is now showing me some things regarding His discipline. Today, He spoke to me in such a “father” kind of way. It was really cool.

After realizing the disobedience and repenting of it, I was waiting for His discipline, or as to what the consequences would be. This particular time He said, “You can come out of your room now”. I thought to myself (even laughed), now this is different. I felt like a little boy opening the door and walking out. Then I heard Him say, “now you know what you did, and that I don’t want you to do it again, right?” I said “yes”. He said, “Ok, then no further discipline is needed, right?” I said, “your right”.

Now, even though I am learning more and more about the discipline of the Father, I know from past experiences, that if I mess up again, He will have to then discipline me harder next time, in hope that I will get it. After all, isn’t this what discipline is all about? Learning to not be disobedient again?

Our scripture text said, …. “those who have been trained by it”. Trained by discipline.

“My son, do not despise the chastening(discipline) of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; (Yes, the Lord can, and does rebuke us) For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” (Heb. 12-5-6)

Now our Lord is sovereign. He alone knows us completely. He knows what exactly what kind of discipline we need for each disobedience. There are those times where he just sends us to our room (so to speak). Then, there are times where He has to “scourge” us. Now, I will keep this part brief, but it must be understood. The word here, “scourge” means, “to flog or whip”. Yes, we can and do receive a “whipping” from God, as He sees what we need. Always remembering, that it is because He loves us, as our scriptures show us.

“If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” (7-8)

Here it basically tells us that if we don’t “endure the chastening”, then we are not true sons of God. Hard to swallow, I know. Especially in 2010.

“Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect.” (vs.9) Well, first off, this was written when there was such a thing. Father’s disciplined their children. It’s sad today that very little Father’s discipline their children. In most cases, there is not a true father around, in the first place. Secondly, when there is, they give in to the way of the world, such as, “don’t discipline your children, just talk to them”. In many cases, the mother is the one that does all the discipline. The father stands back and lets her do it. Again, the way of the world, not the way of God.

“Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?” (vs.9) Isn’t this what “being trained by discipline” does? It makes us (in the right sence of the word) be in subjection. The self-will fights every inch against this. The flesh will not be in subjection to anything that requires discipline.

“For they (our father’s in the flesh) indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, (to all of us that were blessed to have had father’s that did chasten us) but God does it for our profit, (isn’t that awesome, He does it for our good) Why? that we may be partakers of His holiness.” (vs.10) And of course remember, we can’t see Him without it.

“Now no chastening(discipline) seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (vs.11)

So there you have it. Discipline is good for all of us. Especially if we want to be sons and daughters of God the Father.

Forsaking the “Call” of God

September 12, 2010

What needs to be reminded to those who have forsaken the call of God on their lives, is the serious consequences that follow.

When I say “call”, I mean the special plan and purpose that God has place upon ones life. This could be a broad spectrum that encompasses a vast area of the individuals particular gifting and talents. When it’s all said and done, it is what the individual was created for. No where, is the individual to have his or her’s own plans.  It must come from getting to know God on a personal level, and finding out in time, what one was created for. It’s a process that all believers must embark upon. If there is no investment to find out, then it will not be found. The only way it comes, is by seeking. All things of God come through seeking Him and His will. No seek, no find.

A life spent without knowing God’s plan and purpose, is a waste, so to speak. Think about it for a moment. God has created the individual by His plan and design, His will to be done for that person while on earth. Because God is exact and makes no mistakes in all creation, how can we think for a minute, that it’s “hit and miss” with Him? Take a look at the universe and see how everything falls into place. The human body, how it’s design is beyond comprehension. God is God, and He is perfect in all His ways. Even for the way we were created to walk in.

The God given gift of free-will always comes into play. I know that there are those who think differently, but it still doesn’t change the fact that in a given day, we make countless decisions all by our free-will. We choose, moment by moment. Yes, God is sovereign, but He designs us as creatures of choice. Make no mistake about it.

Part of my testimony involves a period of time in my life where I personally chose to turn away from what I knew that God had call me to, and what I was created for. This involved a one on one encounter with God, where I purposely argued with Him that I knew what was best for me and that I was going to do what I deemed best for me. I did, and the consequences were very costly to say the least.

He respects our free-will. Think about it for a moment. He gave us this “free-will” in the first place, yet He turns it over to us to chose and use it as we see best. Now, I must certainly say, that all the time that this takes place in our lives, He is continually trying to mold and shape us after His will and not our own will and ways. This “molding and shaping” involves a lot of “tough love” for sure. God sees all of eternity and we don’t. He knows what is best for us, so He continually moves in many seen and unseen ways. Always pursuing us with His love, which is God’s love, not human love. It works in ways we can’t comprehend, for it is God’s ways, God’s love.

This all was brought to mind again this past week. I was reading from the book of Romans, on the street corner, and a lady stopped and listened to the words. Soon, we engaged in an conversation that had to do with her husband. She shared how that several years ago her husband was doing the same thing that I was doing. Now he was an alcoholic and they are homeless living out of their van, both they and their youngest son. She shared awesome testimonies how God had worked in the past. Now they were desperate and in great confusion as to where they were at and where they were headed. She knew the reason for all of their woes. She was just trying to hang on for another day, as she watched her son and husband deteriorate.

After we finished talking, she asked if I would mine meeting her husband and son. She knew where she had left them that day, and hoped that they were still there. So we took off and walked a few blocks. Soon, she pointed to them on the corner, a block up from where we were. When we got there, her husband was standing next to a pole holding a cardboard sign that read, “Any amount will help us. Homeless and $1 will help”. Their 16yr. old son was sitting on the ground next to him.

Here was a family that had reached the bottom in a relatively short amount of time. Once, they were actively involved in their church, and actively involved in ministry. Now they were bagging for help.

We had an awesome time sharing. They related from sharing about the past, how God moved in their lives. Testimonies that were powerful. All from the past. How sad to hear nothing current. I was moved to give them a twenty, then it went to the current provision and how thankful they were to God.

I encouraged him to get back on track with God, and that His “gifts and callings were without repentance”. (once He gives something, He doesn’t take it back). We had prayer and finished our visit. I gave them my number and hope that they will come to our gathering on Tuesday nights.

In closing, there is a high cost to pay when one chooses to go his or hers own way. Whether it’s forsaking God, or forsaking His call on our lives, the price is steep. Many have yet to return. Many have years of pain and sorrow that could have been prevented, if only they would have stayed and chosen to do what they knew to do.

Where are you today? Is He still Lord? Are you still following Him with all your heart? How about the “known” plan and purpose of God, the call of God on your life? It’s not too late, if your heart is still soft. Turn before it’s too late. Save yourself some heartache, some pain and loss. There will be no regrets. God’s way has none.

Listening to The Spirit, then obeying

May 28, 2010

When the big changes come to our land, there will not be time to learn how to hear the Spirit, much less how to obey Him.

Now is the time, and it’s quickly running out. We all need to slow down, trim down and wait on the Lord. Wait comes before hearing. The body, mind and soul must be quite before the Lord to hear what the Spirit is saying. Jesus said over and over, “He that has an ear, let him hear”.

It’s school, learning how to hear. It takes lots of practice and lots of “trial and error”. How bad do we want to hear? Are we actively in His school of learning how to hear, be led of His Spirit and thus obey? Can we at the end of the day, record what we heard, and after hearing, what happened?

First off, if you have read some of my posts that have to do with this subject, you will see how fond I am of doing this. I love to share with unbelievers that they too can experience God in the Spirit while they are living here on this earth. I don’t push religion or church. I share Christ as the way to life, and life more abundantly. I also love to share what the “abundant life” is not. Christ was our supreme example of the abundant life. He came and did the Father’s will. It’s the same for each one of us. Doing God’s will while here on the earth.

The abundant life is not what the world gives nor offers. Sad to say, but a lot of what is portrayed by Christians is not the abundant life that God offers. It’s life in the Spirit. It’s not measured by material possessions. It’s a lie to say that if your really blessed by God, you will have a big house, a fine car, a good paying job, two cats and two dogs. This is where the church has bought into the world and it’s ways. And if we take a look around, we will see many ways that they have bought into a lie. Many churches are no more than a big corporate business. In some cases, you might as well be on “wall street”.

Well, back to listening to the Spirit and obeying.

I only have one motive with sharing examples of being led of the Spirit. That is, that others would be encouraged to learn how and get out and start practicing. I am not saying that all need to get out, ride the bus and or the train, and see where He takes you. However, you need to set aside some time where you are free to go out and make listening and obeying your top priority for the day. This is how you learn. Through experiencing what you are hearing, then acting upon it.

Example:

When I headed out my front door today, I sensed that it was going to be one of those “learning to hear and obey” days. It was typical and good on the first bus to the train. When I got on the train, I stood like I usually do. I like to do this particularly because it keeps you alert and mobile. You can see many people getting on and off the train. More chances to interact and or observe.                                                                                             

Well, then comes the second stop. People get on and off. Then I noticed two girls come running up at the last minute and barely made it through the doors and got on. I smiled and said what came to my mind. “Saved by the bell!” They went hurriedly by and one of them said, “No saved by Jesus!” Well, as you can imagine, it all opened up like it does quite often on the bus or train. Everybody gets to hear about what God is doing. They shared about their upcoming church “revival” meetings this weekend. We shared about Christ in our lives. It was good for all to “hear”.

This set me in motion. This is how the Spirit works. Usually through people, to reach people.

Today, as I was going across the bridge on the train, I looked out the window and saw the waterfront (for those who don’t know, basically it’s the walkway and park that follows along the river). I heard (key word) the Spirit say, “walk along the waterfront”. So, when I got to the proper stop, I got off and walked towards that direction. As I walked, I remained calm and was listening.(no double mocha’s here). As I walked, I looked around and noticed people. (always remembering, that God is about people. And nine times out of ten it has to do with people). Then I heard, “you bringing them to me day”. I took this as, God was going to bring people to me today. I was OK with that. It doesn’t usually work that way, but I re-adjusted and went on.

I got to the waterfront and started to head south along the river. It was a typical semi-sunny day. It was close to lunch time, so there was beginning to be a lot of people out walking, jogging and cycling. I walked for a little while then sensed that I needed to set down. So, I sat there on a concrete wall. Nobody stopped by like I thought it might happen. I waited. There was one lady with her dog a little ways from me. She got up and walked her dog in my direction. I said hello and petted her dog. She talked a little about her dog and that was it. I said, “God bless you” and away she went.

I got up and started walking again. Stopped again a ways up the water. This time, leaning upon the rail on the water side. No body stops. I remind myself that He said He would bring them to me. This was a test of waiting. A test of patience. A test of faith.

Started walking again after about 10 minutes. Walked a bit and said hello to this man and his wife as they where walking. They went on ahead of me. (keep these people in mind as the story develops).

Walked a bit further then sensed that I needed to sit down on some benches. I waited and no one. Sensed that I was to get out my Bible and read. So I did. Looked up and noticed that man and his wife again. They must have detoured and got back on the boardwalk. I smiled and thought nothing of them. Started walking again. Came to a restroom and went inside. Came out and started walking again. (Is this getting boring or what? HOLD ON THE GOOD STUFF IS COMING!)

Came close to the end where it circles back to the main road. Noticed some new spots that He might have me to share the Gospel in the coming days. This was encouraging. Came to the light and the crosswalk. And who do you think was there at the same time? Right! The man and his wife. Finally, by this time I was getting it. With all the tens of dozens of people that are out and about, and there stands these people. They take off walking first. I follow behind.

We get to the next light, one block into downtown, and I turned to them as we were waiting for the light to turn green, and said, “Do you folks (old school, I know) know JESUS? The man says to me, “No” (he seemed very proud of it). I said, “No, Oh man, well I hope you find Him before it’s too late.” The light turns green and they take off. The lady says “thank you”. The man said nothing.

We get to the other side of the street and I sensed that I needed to turn and go south. They went straight. I took off and prayed for them both as I walked. I walked two blocks south, and turned west walking uphill. I headed towards the college as I had sensed earlier that I was to make a stop there. Proceeding about four blocks, I come to an intersection and low and behold, there is the couple. He looks at me and we make eye contact. I smile. He looks away.

Now for all the doubters out there, they can say this was all happen chance. No. God knew what He was doing. The whole walk was planned by Him. God was trying once again, by His love, to reach that couple. I believe mainly the man. God knows.

Can you see how important it is to be “listening and obeying?” People are hanging in the balance for eternity. Now, I don’t know how much longer that man and women have on this earth. But God knows that they needed to be reminded about His Son once again. As I have said on numerous occasions, “there will be no excuse on that day when we stand before God. We here in America, will not be able to say, “wait a minute God, I never had an opportunity to hear about your Son, Christ”. Lot’s of opportunities in a lifetime!

I finished up at the college where I met some brothers and sisters who where ministering up there. It was all good.

So, to be Spirit led is of vital importance in this day. Time is way too short for us to be out doing our own thing. Christ said, that if we will lose our life , we will gain it in eternity. Are you laying up treasures in heaven or upon the earth? The choice is ours.

Sweet Downloads

April 2, 2010

There is nothing like hearing and then acting out what you hear.

Today, as I was traveling into town on the train, I was noticing the sky outside. As the train was about to stop at one of the many stops before downtown, I saw a vacant lot and the sidewalk out in front. I heard, “stand there and look into the sky”. So, when it stopped, I headed in that direction.

After crossing the intersection, I walked towards the lot and stood on the sidewalk facing the lot, looking up at the sky. It was so beautiful. I stood there, and the earth stood still, but the clouds were ever changing.

Then the Spirit spoke, and I took out my pocket tablet and began to write. This is unedited, straight from the Spirit. Hope you are blessed!

The painting of God in the clouds

The whites, the grays, the blue skies. Master painting, the stroke of the masters hand. Different shades of blue, gray, whites. Ever changing, moment by moment. Painting in motion.

Below, the flowers stand out. The color of each. The green grass as the sun hits it. Different shades in it. The red bush in the distance, stands out. The pink little flowers in the grass, just a short distance away.

Oh the beauty of God’s creation. Trees taking on new greenery. Don’t forget the yellow dandelion, it is always consistent.

There you have it. I hope you also are learning to hear and then obey. It is going to be very important in the coming days. This is just preparation time. We must be practicing what we hear. Living it out as He gives it to us. If we are too busy, we won’t hear. If our minds are cluttered with ever thought at every moment, we won’t hear. I have found it so.

“He that has an ear, let him hear”

Losing our life to gain it

January 7, 2010

Unusual concept isn’t it? It certainly isn’t what the world out there teaches.

Jesus said and taught, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mk.8:35)

This is some hard stuff! This is some hard teaching! It goes against our very being! When one starts this process of “losing their life”, it’s very likely that there will be times when they stand up and yell, “I want my life back!”  Such was the case of one who was very close to me. There will be times when we will be faced with the very decision of what shall I do, give up or not. In our natural man we don’t like giving up. We are naturally stubborn and we want our own way. This is very evident even at a very young age. Watch two year old babies sitting down on the floor with one toy. Or even if each has their own toy, what happens? That’s my toy!

When we are on this course, this path of abandonment, we will all be faced with times of real struggles. Now of course, if you haven’t been on the path yet than there is no real battle. We will look at this and scratch our heads and try and figure out what it is I am talking about.

You might say, I go to church every Sunday. Sometimes twice a week. If fact, I am on the worship team. I pray. I feed the homeless. While all these things are good and amiable, they are not “reckless abandonment”. This abandonment will always take the “road less traveled” than the masses.

The following quotes (in quotation marks) are from the book, “God in the flesh” by Dan Everts. Published by InterVarsity Press. Highly recommended.

“Not everyone is called to leave his or her vocation, of course”. Some are definitely called to do this and must obey this if they are to fulfill God’s intended plan and purpose while here on this earth.

“Our reckless abandonment should look as varied and unique as we are. leaving a fishing company,” (as did some of his disciples did). Some are definitely called to leave their business and follow Him.

Others it may be, “cracking open your prized alabaster jar of nard, walking into synagogues to preach about Jesus, caring for the poor in the name of Jesus rather than caring for our bank accounts in the name of leisure……”

“The call is always from Jesus and is as varied as we are. But the response is the thing. When we see Jesus clearly, our own cares melt away. And we will do whatever he says.”

The key is, “when we see Jesus clearly.” It’s going to take time alone with Him to see Him clearly. It’s not going to happen as we rush through this life and then put the brakes on only when Sunday morning arrives. Then the brakes are on for Jesus, but only for two hours then I am off and running again. If we only stop to see Him when the church doors are open, we’ve missed it all together.

It must be a daily spending time with Jesus. This is certainly not easy. Especially for those who have children and families to care for. But it still must be found. It is going to have to be cut out each day with determination and discipline. It going to be hard,but He has promised all that we need if we seek Him first.

As I look back on my walk with Him, there were times when I just didn’t want to “cut out” anything more. My walk consisted of “normality”, lack of desire and very little passion. We might have to cut out such things as TV, the computer, meetings in the evenings etc. For some it might even be “Monday night football.” God forbid!

This abandonment is personal, but must be done. As we seek Him out. He will reveal more to us as we go. It’s a process. He has a personal road map for us to follow, and it just might be vastly different than those we know. It could very well be the “road less traveled.”

My personal experiance has been one of many abandonments. Some could be classified as “reckless”. If having never had some of these experiences, I’m sure I would be one of those “comfortable Christians” not willing to step out by faith into the unknown. Not popular today by any stretch of the imagination, and certainly not taught.

However, I can truly say that it hasn’t been easy. It’s hard stuff, and it doesn’t appear to be getting any easier. But, I can truly say that through it all, I have experienced true joy and true satisfaction. A life submitted, a life lost to Him is worth it all.

True abandonment takes place when His will is done, not ours. When He shows us over a period of time what must go in our lives, then by His grace and strenght we leave to follow Him, words cannot express the joy that arrives in our obedience. Basically, it is true life when we pursue what we know that we have been created for. If we don’t know, then we must stop and find out.

Jesus did just this. He experienced life as the Father had purposed for him. He did the Father’s will. But it comes with a price tag. Jesus paid the ultimate price by giving his life a ransom for all. He is asking us to give our lives to Him. Our all to Him and follow Him. Will we do it? Are we doing it?

Are we losing our life for Him and His Kingdom? Once again, I am not talking about two hours on Sunday morning with a bible study thrown in. I am talking our whole lives!

May God bless you as you give your all to Him!