LOVE OUT OF A PURE HEART…


1 Timothy 1:5 – “But the goal of our instruction is love [which springs] from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”  “Amplified

A few nights ago, throughout the night, my thoughts were on Loving Others with a Pure Heart.  As I prayed and mused on that subject, the thoughts kept coming to mind that objective would be a human impossibility without first Loving God with our ALL (Heart, mind, soul, strength).  Had that been the end of my consideration and thought, then I would have awakened depressed and distressed, but there was more. 

I felt that the Holy Spirit was opening my mind to the reality that if we do not have that kind of relationship with God and receive His Unconditional Love and have it infused in us it is IMPOSSIBLE to love others with purity.  What happens is we allow our own preferences, views, biases, and desires to get in the way and block that kind of love.   

I have instructed congregations that we are to Love as Jesus loved only to be told – “That’s not possible because Jesus was God, and we are human.”  Seriously!  Yes, Jesus was and is God, but EVERYTHING He did on planet earth was as man, otherwise, His death on the Cross was meaningless to anyone but the Godhead.  He came AS man and FOR man.  He is our example and ONLY as we embrace His Mercy with the balance of His Holiness, Justice, Righteousness, and Purity can we enter into His presence and find His purpose and power in our lives.  

I have some acquaintances who have created a god and doctrines out of their need for justification of their own deficiencies.  They only focus on God’s Mercy without the balance of His Holiness.  They have rejected the idea of hell and eternal punishment for those who reject God’s Mercy and Grace and live outside His demand for Holiness and Righteousness.  Do we fall short?  Of course, but we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.  However, if we keep falling short in the same things that becomes a lifestyle rather than a momentary failure and that places us in a state of rebellion. 

To demand that God, ignore our rebellion would be to make God a human creation and transform Him into our image rather than us being transformed into His image.  His call is ALWAYS Higher! We dare not attempt to bring Him down to our level.   Therefore, to Love others is only possible when we follow the Greatest Command to Love the Lord our God with ALL our heart, mind, soul, and strength.  When we do that, then the Love of God permeates our being, and we are then able to Love our Neighbor as ourselves. 

How we love ourselves rightly, is rooted in Loving God rightly and completely.  Otherwise, we may find ourselves filled with self-rejection and loving others that way would be to hate them not love them.  The ONLY way we can love others rightly is to Love God Completely.  Love is never an emotion it is an action. 

Jesus said, in John 14:34 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”  In 1 John 4:20, the apostle John declared, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”  In 1 John 4:7, we read, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”

In Mark 12:28-34 we have the encounter between Jesus and one of the teachers of the law.  Jesus was asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important or greatest?”  His answer was the heart of what I am declaring and the heart of the Christian life.  Jesus said, “Number one is to love God with ALL of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  Without that the Number two is impossible for man.  He said that the next greatest was to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” 

I have known some people and have experienced some dark times when attempting to love others as they loved themselves. I have experienced some bitter disappointments as well. If some loved others as they loved themselves, it would not be love and certainly not love out of a pure heart.  We are living in a world filled with hate and it becomes more hate-filled every day.  Much of the world and too much of the church have abandoned the commandments of Jesus regarding Love.  We try to justify our animosity, but if and that is the key “if” we love God with ALL our heart, mind, soul, and strength that love will so permeate our being that Love for others is a natural response.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever! He loved then, loves now, and will love forever!  If Christ is IN us and the Love of God fills our heart, then we will LOVE even when it hurts and disappoints.  The Love Chapter, as it is called 1 Corinthians 13 is applicable.  There is no excuse for not loving as Jesus loved because we have His mercy, grace, forgiveness, and through Him the New Birth, which makes us a New Creation.  You may be only human, but you have been transformed if Christ is in you. 

God is Love!  God is Mercy!  God is Holy!  God is Righteous!  God is Just!  God is Pure!  The life that we now live in the flesh we live by the faith of the Son of God.  It is Christ IN us!  Repentance is in order and to repent means to do a 180-degree turn and go in the opposite direction.  We may not find loving easy, but it is possible and like everything else requires commitment and discipline.  Father forgive, me for I have fallen short and ask that you help me to be transformed.

May God be with you as you go through this day walking in Love!

HELD AND UPHELD…


Psalm 94:18-19 – “I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up.  19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” NKJV

As most of you have discerned by now, I love the Psalms for they convey so many spiritual nuggets in such poetic language it is easy to remember and relate to.  David, a man God identified as being after His own heart speaks from life experiences that most of us can relate to and is not afraid to expose his humanity. 

I have cautioned young people who were considering full-time preaching ministry to Never stop being human.  Too many that occupy the sacred desk in churches feel that they dare not expose the kinks in their armor or the people will turn on them, and sadly sometimes they are right, but I could never abide by that philosophy.  I am human, I have struggles and difficulties and God has helped me overcome some pretty incredible things.  I believe that should benefit others to know that the man they are following spiritually has and is facing some of the same struggles they are and point them to God.

David said, “If I say, MY FOOT SLIPS, Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up.”  I make it through life resting in the shelter of the Arms of God.  When I am overcome with things that distress my life, I lift up my eyes to the hills and know that my help comes from the Lord and His comfort and strength bring renewed joy and strength to my life. 

God is our “present help in the time of need,” but sadly too often we fail to remember that or allow His strength to flood our lives.  We struggle and press to “do it” but there are times when we need to “cease striving” and just allow God to be God in our situation. We cannot do what God can do!

If you feel that your foot is slipping do not despair rather rejoice because God’s mercy and grace will hold you if you let Him.  If you are overcome with anxious thoughts and concerns, do not despair but rather rejoice because God’s comforting strength will bring a renewal of joy to your soul if you will allow it.  God wants to bring you out of the struggle and difficulty stronger!

Rejoice in the Lord today and rest in His grace!  Blessings as you go through your day!

BIBLICAL RECONCILIATION…


Matthew 18:15-20 – “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go, and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.  16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’  17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. 18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.  20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” NKJV

I will, no doubt, rock some people’s boats today in what I write.  Most conflicts are handled other than biblically.  We all know it, yet we continue to do it.  Here Jesus gives us a very clear picture and process through which we are to handle disagreements and conflicts.  It is a directive that we do not follow, in part, because the church of today is ill-equipped to do its part in resolving disputes. 

Jesus tells us that if we are wronged by a brother or sister, we are to go to them directly.  We are not to spread it amongst ourselves and make it a matter of he said/she said and form cliques and divisions.  Our interest should be to resolve the conflict between us and a brother or sister in Christ.  The Lord advises that if we do this and the person hears our plea we have reconciled and gained our brother. 

Jesus takes it to the next level in telling us that if the offender does not hear us, then we are to take one or two more with us and appeal to them again with oversight and support from within the church, and by implication, it would be by godly unbiased voices probably from the eldership. 

The purpose of these additional people is to establish witnesses to what is said and done.  If that fails, then we are to take the matter to the church.  Is that the church as a whole or the eldership of the church?  That is a matter that many disagree on but either way, the matter is made public.  Then if the person who has truly offended or wronged another refuse to hear the plea before the church he is regarded as a heathen and a tax collector.

Then Jesus says something that most take as being an entirely different topic, but the context and content cannot be regarded that way.  He is still talking about someone sinning against another and in the context of two or three witnesses establishing a matter.  He says, “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound on earth and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 

If you bind the offender by agreement that person is bound spiritually in heaven and earth and if you set them free from the offense, they are freed.  Jesus then said, “If two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”  While I agree this applies to other things it is also absolute that it applies to handling conflict.  This shows how serious God is about resolving conflict and what you do individually and collectively regarding sin and offense within the local body.

Do not let matters of conflict fester and become malignant, address them immediately, properly, and under the guidelines of scripture.  You will find that there is incredible power in this process, and it will be transforming.

May God be with you as you go through your day!

INTEGRITY HAS ITS REWARD…


Proverbs 2:6-8 – “For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8 Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones.” NASB

I do not hear much preaching on the Cross, Holiness, or Separation from Sin and the World today.  Oh, I am not saying that it is not happening, but I am not hearing a lot of it.  I have been in churches where the theme seems to be entertainment and amusement and while the crowds are there and there is active involvement by those in attendance there does not seem to be a lasting effect on the lives and character of the attendees after the service is over. 

I do not mean to bring a railing indictment or render a judgment that comes across as though I view myself as ‘holier than thou.’ I do not and if what those churches that I just mentioned are doing is what the Holy Spirit is directing then that is between them and God.  I realized a long time ago that each person has a different taste in the type and style of preaching, singing, and operation of the local church.  If you look long enough you will find one that suits your particular taste and if not, maybe you should pray about the possibility of God wanting you to plant one yourself.

But back to the topic at hand – Integrity!  When I read this passage, I am immediately moved by what the writer says regarding this subject.  He identifies that the true source of Wisdom is God! He reveals that ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’ come from God.  He goes on to declare that God stores up ‘sound wisdom’ for the upright and is a shield for those who walk in integrity.  God guards the paths of justice and preserves the way of His godly ones.  That is powerful!

A side benefit of walking in integrity and uprightly before the Lord is Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding!  It is to cover us with God’s shield and to open the door to the path of justice and life.  That is a tremendous benefit.  While we do not seek to be godly for the side benefits, we should be aware of them.  We should seek to please the Lord in our lives, and we should not be afraid to ask God for Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge.  We should not be afraid or timid to ask God for His Divine Shield and access to the Paths of Justice and the Preservation of our Lives.

We all have promises from God that are lofty and rather than struggling to hold your head above water – Seek the Lord for His Divine Help.  We should desire to walk in Integrity and Uprightness at all times and in all things and watch God’s provision and demonstrations in our life and circumstances.

May God be with you as you go through your day!

THE ‘IS-NESS’ OF GOD….


Psalm 23 – “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.  2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.  3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.  6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” NASB

I love this Psalm for many reasons, and one is that it describes and depicts what I like to call the “is-ness” of God.  Consider to David begins the Psalm – The LORD IS! He is, not maybe will be, could be, and might be HE IS! Then David launches into a powerful discourse about What and Who God is to him personally and to you and me individually.

Because He IS my shepherd “want or a sense of neediness is banished.”  Because He IS my shepherd, I am led to the quiet refreshing waters to restore my soul, directed to the lush green pastures for the sustenance of life that I so desperately need.  Because He IS my shepherd I am led into and kept on the path of righteousness. 

No matter what I face the “is-ness” of God protects, defends, provides, and guides me.  Because He IS my shepherd fear is dismissed because of His presence.  His power sustains and comforts me.  A banquet is prepared for me while surrounded by a host of adversaries and my head is anointed with the Holy Oil of the Spirit of God and my cup overflows so that others are blessed in my being blessed.  Because He IS my shepherd the goodness and mercy of God follow me; like a newborn lamb follows its mother and I have permanent residence in God’s presence.

So, when I read this Psalm, I read of God’s “IS-NESS,” and my heart leaps for joy because I know that HE IS and IS a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother and never leaves nor forsakes His children.  HE ISand because HE IS I have hope!

May God be with you as you go through your day!

THE WAY TO THE TOP OR THE BOTTOM…


James 4:1-10 – “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so, you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so, you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore, it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” NASB

In our spiritual walk, we are either moving upward toward Godliness or downward toward wickedness.  This pathway is not a level plane but an incline and to stop is to begin to move backward so there must always be forward progress and that means involvement and action on our part.  I am not suggesting in any way that we can or should try to earn our salvation, but I am suggesting that our faith needs our works added to it for the completion of our growth and development spiritually.

James identifies the reason for conflict in the church and that is “carnality” and “self.”  He powerfully identifies the root problem in numerous areas and that leads him to identify the reason that we are not getting our prayers answered as is seen in verse three.  He further informs us that if we are friends of this world which is hostile to God we are joining in that hostility. 

James pointedly tells us that Pride is destructive and divisive and a characteristic that God rejects implicitly but to the humble God extends grace.   He then makes an impassioned plea that we submit to God and in doing so resist the devil and as a result the closer we get to God the further the devil flees because He knows the Power of God and fears Him.  He calls on us to purify our hearts, cleanse our hands and stop being double-minded. 

James declares that if we submit ourselves to God in true humility, He will exalt us.  So, the way to the top or the bottom is found in this short passage. We can continue to allow our own selfish desires to dominate, or we can resign as the center of our universe and allow God to occupy that spot.  If we allow God top billing in our lives, we will ascend to the Holy Hill of the Lord and be exalted.  If we continue to be the center of our universe we will descend to the bottom. The choice is truly ours.

So, as you go through this day go through it with the realization that ascending, or descending is your choice.  Choose to ascend by emptying yourself of self and allow God to be Number One in your heart, mind, soul, and spirit.  

God bless you abundantly as you go through this day!

THE UNSHAKABLE WORD OF GOD…


Mark 13:31 – “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” NASB

In the context of this verse, Jesus was speaking of His Second Coming and giving the disciples and future generations clues and keys to look for to identify the times.  In that context but also as a stand-alone statement He said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”  His Word is Unshakable and Infallible!  We trust so many things in this world and life, but the only sure thing is GOD’S WORD!

When I enter my house at night, I flip the switch and believe that light is going to immediately fill the room.  When I sit on a chair, I believe that it is going to support my weight and allow me to sit there comfortably.  When I get in my truck, I expect the engine to start and take me down the road to my destination.  When I get on an airplane, I expect it to take over, become airborne, remain airborne until we reach the destination, and then land safely and allow me to get off. 

It is by faith that we operate in this life and if we did not have faith and confidence that those things and multitudes more were going to be realities, we would be mental and emotional wrecks and completely unable to function.  Yet too often we Do Not Trust the Word of God with that same expectancy. 

We read the promises and consider them “hopes,” “dreams,” and “aspirations” rather than Factual Promises from God Himself.  We relegate them to some by-gone era or for someone else and that is wrong.  Jesus said that although Heaven and Earth passed away His Word Would Not!  t is rock solid and unshakable!

Let me encourage you to read the promises of God and take them literally not figuratively.  Read them as personal promises to you because, if you have been redeemed by the Blood of Jesus, they are! 

We readily accept the declaration that God does not and cannot lie but we treat His promises as though they were something other than factual absolute commitments by Him to us.  If God says something He says it for a purpose not just to hear Himself speak or to make us feel warm and fuzzy at the moment of hearing it.  He says it because of His great love and if He promises He backs up that promise with His very person, nature, and character.  God Never speaks idle words!

So, as you go through this day and from this day forward as you read the Word of God receive it as a Personal Promise of God to you because it is.  

May God be with you as you go through this day!

COUNTING THE COST…


Luke 14:28-33 – “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down, and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?  29 “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’  31 “Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  32 “Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.”  NASB

What a powerful truth that our Lord has given here and one that too often we fail to observe.  It has been my experience, personally and in dealing with others, that too often we do not “count the costs” before engaging in something.  We get a whim and take off without honestly and carefully evaluating what is before us and what it will take to complete it. 

We have all known people who “engage their mouths before engaging their brains,” and know the problems that can occur in that.  Likewise, we all know people and probably have participated personally in some endeavor that was not “thought out,” or “evaluated” and found that once it had begun that we would not have the resources or ability to complete it.  That made future endeavors suspect in the minds of many who had observed our folly in the former situation.

Thus, we have Jesus’ warning that you do not attempt to build a building without calculating whether you have sufficient resources to complete it.  To fail to do so would likely result in becoming the laughingstock of those observing and hinder future efforts on your part!  That is incredibly important in life and the things of the Kingdom of God. 

He went on to paint the picture of a king or leader who saw an advancing army that was double his strength.  That king, our Lord confirmed, would evaluate his ability to overcome the size and strength of the invading army and if he determined he could not he would send a delegation seeking peace long before the invading army arrived.  That would be self-preservation and completely logical.  Any other course of action would result in the likely destruction of the nation and the king.

In matters of the Kingdom of God, it is important that we “count the costs.”  God’s business is, without doubt, worth whatever the cost but it is equally important for us to not get drawn into zeal without clear direction and support of God and those in company with us. 

America during WWII our nation could not have successfully waged war against aggressor nations without the entire populace “counting the cost” and making the commitment to endure and overcome.  In matters of the Spirit, it is important that we “count the costs,” evaluate our resources, and make whatever commitment is needed Before entering any pursuit.  We want to lift up our Lord not become distractions due to our Zeal. 

May God be with you as you go through your day!

CAST NOT AWAY YOUR CONFIDENCE…


Hebrews 10:35-39 – “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

37 FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY.  38 BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.

39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” NASB

The writer of Hebrews is making an impassioned plea to those of his day and future generations to endure or maintain their commitment to God and confidence in His promises.  He reminded them that God had promised to come back and would do just that. He also reminded them that the returning Lord would not respond favorably to those who had “shrunk back” or threw away their confidence.  Then he boldly stated, “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”

Too many times, I have watched people lose heart and give up.  Some of those times it was in the eleventh hour and the victory was just around another bend in the winding road of life, but they were worn out by the assaults of the enemy and threw in the towel. 

I have had times in my life when I virtually had to stand alone against the overriding opinion of everyone around me and in those times, I have watched as God demonstrated His sovereignty and performed what many would call A Miracle! 

I have watched God move hearts as I stood firm holding on to my confidence in Him and His promises.  Slowly others began to catch the wind of inspiration and would declare, “I believe God.”  As that happened, we would see the enemy routed and God rise to the occasion and bring us victory.

I have declared for years regarding our individual lives, “The devil cannot win unless we quit.”  If you hold on to God and His Promises You Will Be Victorious!  That is not a hopeful statement but one that is rooted solidly in the Word of God and His demonstrated history.  So, whatever you do DON’T QUIT!  DON’T GIVE UP!  DON’T THROW AWAY YOUR CONFIDENCE!

May God be with you as you go through your day!

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH…


1 Timothy 1:18-19 – – “This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.”  NASB

Paul said something to Timothy that many today have a problem with because they do not believe in the prophetic or prophets in this time.  If you are one of those then what I say will probably not be too palatable to you but if you do believe in it, then what I say may be of some benefit and encouragement.  So, let’s go!

Paul told Timothy that he was to rehearse the prophecies made concerning Timothy and by them fight the good fight of faith.  He was to do that keeping the faith and a good conscience.  It was not to be self-serving but to be a diligent prayerful effort to take what had been prophetically spoken concerning Timothy and wage war with the enemy on that basis. 

I believe that every gift God has ever given the church is still active today and therefore I believe in the prophetic and God has used me in that gift and does use me.  He has enabled me to see things at times that are not visible to the natural eye and there is no outward evidence that those things are taking place or will take place.  I’ve spoken them as well as had times when God would reveal something to me, and I would only pray based on that revelation only to see God’s revelation become reality. 

I remember once praying for a couple that had visited the church for the first time and I knew nothing about them.  It was as I was praying that God moved on me to pray for the woman during her pregnancy that was coming.  She burst into tears and became almost uncontrollable.  After the service, her husband came to me and informed me that she had had two miscarriages and the doctors told them that she would never conceive again. 

I only prayed what God has spoken to my heart and two months after that date she informed me that she was pregnant with twins.  It was a spiritual battle that was manifested in the flesh during that pregnancy, but she carried the babies to term and delivered two healthy babies at the end of the nine months.  She was overjoyed and shared publicly how she had never really believed in the prophetic, but she did now and learned to wage war with the prophecies during her pregnancy and God honored her commitment and faith.

I have had things spoken over me that have not happened and may never, but I do not worry about that.  When God witnesses something to my heart, He always confirms it through two or three witnesses and when that happens I earnestly wage warfare with the prophetic word.  I have seen healings take place through this, homes restored, finances healed, and much more.  So, if God speaks prophetically to me, I carefully listen.

May God be with you as you go through your day!