WHO IS RESPONSIBLE IN TIMES OF DANGER???


Ezekiel 33:1-6 – “Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.'”  NKJV

In times of heightened danger from terrorism and anarchy, there has been the encouragement for the public, “See something say something.”  That is something that is practiced in Israel and other parts of the world and has proven to be instrumental and valuable in protecting against an attack.  Yet, I have been told many times from a spiritual standpoint, “Well, it is none of my business” or “I don’t want to meddle.”  

How valid are those arguments when it comes to DANGER?  Would you consider it meddling to warn a parent or a child if the child was in danger of running into a busy street?  Would you consider it none of your business or meddling to warn residents if their house was on fire?  Would you consider it meddling to inform your neighbor if you saw someone break into their house and cart off their goods?   I suggest that we are quite selective in what we deem “meddling” or “none of our business” and tragically consider it good citizenship to sound a warning in the natural on many fronts but unacceptable in spiritual matters.

This passage suggests multiple responsibilities in times of danger.  If we see danger or the sword coming and sound the alarm of warning.  If that warning is heeded, people are saved or better prepared to deal with the present danger.  However, if we sound the alarm and it is ignored then their blood is on their heads not our hands.  It is a grave matter, biblically, to ‘see danger’ and not ‘sound the alarm’.  That would be knowingly and deliberately allowing harm to come to others when we could have, at least, warned them of the impending danger.  God does not take that lightly nor should we. 

Although we often declare that our system or code of laws have their roots in the Bible, we might not realize just how clear that is.  In Deuteronomy 22:8, if someone falls from your roof, and you failed to install a safety fence around the edge, you would be held liable for the death of that individual.  It may have been gross negligence on their part, but you had an obligation to warn or take steps to prevent the danger. 

In Exodus 21:29-31, if a man owns an ox that is prone to harming people, the owner is held liable if he fails to confine the ox and it harms or kills someone.  If the ox harms someone the owner is fined, but if it kills someone, the negligent owner was to be put to death.  You might say, “That is incredibly severe” and I agree it is, but it speaks to the seriousness God has regarding “warning of danger” whether that danger is “eternal hell” or “physical danger”.  God holds us accountable for SOUNDING THE ALARM! 

I believe that one of the assignments I have from God is to be a “Watchman on the Wall” and to sound the alarm of any impending danger that I see.  Therefore, if I remain silent when I see danger I have violated a commandment of God and could never justify or argue that I was not guilty of “he that knows to do good and does it not to him it is sin.”  If I SEE IT and do not SAY IT in sounding the alarm, I become accountable before God for the harm that comes.  However, if I do sound the alarm, then the responsibility shifts from me to those being warned.  In keeping with this reality, we must also understand that the messenger, as well as the message, maybe rejected and we should always seek God for ways to make the message palatable, so it is understood, received, and heeded. 

God bless you as you go through this wonderful day in Him!

DO WE REALLY BELIEVE THE BIBLE???


Psalm 55:22 – “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”  NKJV

David said in Psalm 37:25 – “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.”  In verse 24 he is speaking of the righteous he said, “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand.”  I do not believe there is any conflict in the three passages cited here or in the remainder of the biblical message. 

Is this a guarantee that we will not have problems or that we could not as Paul described in 1 Corinthians 9:27 become a ‘castaway’ or ‘disqualified’?  Is this a guarantee that we will not or cannot as described in Hebrews 10:35 – “…cast away our confidence…”?  Is it a compilation of the promise in Romans 8:28 that “all things” are working together for our good?  I believe, strongly, that God has promised to keep us against that day, and nothing can separate us from His love.  Although I am very aware that circumstances, conditions, events, and assaults on our lives can bring us to the brink of despair that God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.  I also believe that this is descriptive that IF we ‘cast our burden on the LORD’ He will sustain us.  Do you see one small caveat or possible problem here?

The instruction is to cast our burden on the LORD and that is a requirement for the remainder of the promise.  If we refuse to gather under the shelter of his wings as Psalm 91 describes and we trust the Arm of flesh rather than coming to him, taking His yoke upon us and allowing Him to be supreme in our lives we place ourselves outside the scope of the promise of the second portion of the verse.  But if we do Cast our burdens on Him then we are assured that He will not permit us to be moved!  That is a powerful promise!

Therefore, IF we believe the Bible then would that not be an encouragement for each of us to be obedient in casting our burdens on the LORD?  In my humble opinion, IF one believes that by turning to the LORD, rolling our cares on Him, and allowing Him to engineer the course of our lives according to His plan would afford security, safety, and victory what sense would it make to not do so?  The only reason we would not is that we do not truly believe the Bible, nor do we truly trust God’s promise.  I know that is a bit harsh and strongly stated but examine it before rejecting it.

When I consider the life of David, I can readily understand how he would have developed a mentality of trust toward the LORD.  God repeatedly demonstrated His faithfulness to David and David either trusted or repented for failure and ran to the LORD.  Most of us, if not all of us, have experienced God’s faithfulness.  I know that in the times I have truly cast my burden on Him He has proved His Promises!  It did not always transpire as I thought it should or even in the time frame, I had in mind, but God Never Failed and He Never Will.

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

CONSIDER A BENEFIT OF DIFFICULTY…


2 Corinthians 1:3-4 –“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  NKJV

Most of us are aware of the declaration of James that we are to rejoice in trials and few of us give consideration to the benefits that come out of our trials and tribulations.  I am not trying to advance a doctrine that encourages or desires trouble but suggesting that trouble is going to come and if we can embrace it, there is a benefit to be gleaned.

Paul declared that our Heavenly Father is the Father of mercies and comfort!  Our Heavenly Father comforts us in ALL our tribulations with an objective in mind beyond enabling us to make it through the trial.  He comforts us That we may be able to comfort others who are experiencing trials and tribulation. 

Therefore, when the enemy comes in like a flood and God raises up a standard against him and brings you through to the other side of the trial rejoice.  Rejoice in the deliverance and comfort of God and rejoice in the reality that because you have experienced you will be better able to comfort others facing trials.  A man or woman who has been through battle can comfort those enduring trials far better than one who has lived in an ivory tower with no difficulties.  I am far more drawn to a person with a limp than a novice in a time of trouble.

We comfort others with the comfort we received from God.  We communicate His love, patience, longsuffering, guidance, wisdom, and mercy.  We testify of God’s keeping power. We testify of God’s undying love.  We testify of God’s fulfillment of His promise to never leave nor forsake us.  We are living epistles known and read among men examples of God’s love, grace, and power.

Therefore, next time the enemy targets you and it seems that everything that can go wrong does, lift up your voice and your eyes, and Rejoice!  Rejoice knowing that God will not fail and rejoice knowing that one day in the future you will be able to extend that comfort you are receiving from God to a brother or sister in this life.  Philippians 3 speaks of the “power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.”  We want the resurrection power without the suffering.  We want the crown without the Cross, but it will not come. 

I do not know what you are experiencing at this time but if you are suffering consider the additional benefit of that suffering that you will be able to comfort another along the way.  If there is a lesson to be learned in the trial diligently attend to it but above all rejoice in God’s provision and protection and rejoice in the joy that you will be able to be a helping hand to another along the journey.

God bless you as you go through this day!

AS GOOD AS THE NEXT FELLOW…


Proverbs 20:6 – “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?”  NKJV

Through the years I have met many people who, when asked about their relationship with Christ, declare “I am a good person.”  They usually will tell me what they do not do, and some will tell me their acts of benevolence, civic contributions, or something of the kind.  Some will tell me that they go to church regularly and others relatively regularly.  I have found this passage to be incredibly true that most people view themselves as basically good or as good as the next fellow, as I was once told.  The man was a regular in church but had a propensity to hit the nightspots and cavort with the ladies while his wife and children remained at home.  He made little secret of his lifestyle but because he considered himself “as good as the next fellow” he felt little reason to change. 

In the many conversations with this individual, he would point out the flaws in other people in the community and church and especially those in leadership.  It was mostly comparing apples with turnips but nonetheless, it was his justification for allowing his conscience to become calloused guarding against conviction.  I understood his argument for I too held those views at one time.  The rural church I grew up in had flawed people (as to all churches) and I wrongly determined that if some of those people were going to heaven God could not send me to hell because, after all, I was “as good as the next fellow”.  I went to Vietnam with that mindset.  It was terribly wrong, but it was the view I adopted because it allowed me to not deal with the pricks of the Holy Spirit.

On one occasion talking to this individual in the course of the conversation the account in Mark 10 came up. I read to him the words of Jesus when He was called “Good teacher or Good master” and Jesus stopped the individual and said, “Why are you calling me good?  No one is good except God alone.”  He was shocked and I continued the account of how this rich individual had proclaimed his personal goodness when Jesus told Him to keep the commandments.  Jesus then informed the rich young man that he still came up short and this individual was a captive audience at that point.  I read to him the words of Jesus, “One thing you lack, go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  The ruler was heartbroken and turned away because his possessions held his heart and his personal goodness was insufficient to save him. 

While many, if not most of us, would like to compare ourselves with others and declare that we are “as good as the next fellow” if we are honest, we know that is insufficient.  Salvation is never earned it is by Grace through Faith.  God does not measure my life against your life, but His standard is Himself, the Lord Jesus, and His Holy Word.  In that light, everyone knows we have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.  If we understand the standard, we know all have sinned and come short of God’s glory.  If we understand the standard, we know that the invitation of Jesus to “Come unto Me” is our only Hope of Salvation!

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

THE BIG “IF”…


Colossians 2:20-23 – “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations —  21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using — according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”  NKJV

Paul begins this passage with two important words “therefore” and “if”.  If we are to grasp and receive the full benefit of the promises of God and the life that He has come to bring both these words must be reconciled in conjunction with the words of this text.

Therefore – If you truly died with Christ.  If you truly died from the basic principles of the world, Why is that important?   Why do you continue living as though you were subject to the regulations of the world?  Why do you continue to subject and subordinate your faith to the regulations of this world?  Why do you allow ‘self-imposed’ religion to mandate what you can eat, wear, think or do?  Why become ensnared with that which the enemy of our soul advances whether through unbelievers in some governmental regulations or unsuspecting church officials?  Why continue in things that have no value in helping you to war against the indulgence of the flesh?  WHY?

The Big IF is the key.  If we have truly died in Christ and risen to newness of life through the applied blood of Jesus, by grace through faith that life is not our life.  Why allow things that are temporary and passing control your life?  You are a citizen of a new kingdom and your genealogy has changed from whatever you were to Christian!  You are now an heir of God and a joint heir with the Lord Jesus Christ.  You are now a Kingdom of Priest.  You are now a Royal Priesthood.  You are now a New Generation.  You have passed from death to life so why allow death to have supremacy over life?

IF – If we are who we claim to be through our profession of faith then Christ is “in us” and if He is “in us” He will live His life Through Us and manifest Himself in our thoughts, words, and deeds.  Therefore, it is imperative that we turn or focus from those things that are earthly to Him who is at the Right Hand of the Father and declare our members now dead to the things that destroy and alive to the eternal things of God.  We put off the garment of flesh and put on the garment of faith.

IF – If we are born-again believers it is time that we live like what we declare we are and allow the manifestation of Christ through the Holy Spirit to make us epistles known and read among me.  It is time to demonstrate, Christ in us the hope of glory!  It is time to walk out into the Abundant Life that Jesus came, lived, died, rose, and ascended for.

God bless you as you Become that which He declares you to be!  Blessings!

OUR MORTALITY SHOULD HELP GUIDE US…


Hebrews 9:27 – “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…”

Proverbs 27:1 –“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

James 4:14-16 – “…whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”  NKJV

We should never allow the Fear of Death to control our lives, but we should always be conscious of our mortality.  Do not understand me to say that you should live every day with the thought of dying as an overriding thought for if you do it will dominate you, control you, paralyze you and eventually shipwreck you.  However, if you live as though you will never die (naturally) you face the danger of becoming complacent and neglect your assignment in life.  There is a balance that we should all strive for.

When I was in High School, death was a reality, albeit something that was relegated to older people although I had seen some of my peers meet that fate.  In Vietnam, death became a more current and visible reality and paralyzed some so they were doomed to meet that fate because they attempted to save their own lives.  In my 30’s and ’40s, death was a reality, but not something I even considered on a personal level.  I was young, strong, and in pursuit of my dreams and destiny.  In my 50’s and 60’s I have once again become conscious of the brevity of life and the need to live every moment as though it could be the last.  It does not dominate my thinking, but it plays a role in the decisions I make.  Being conscious of the reality of natural death creates a desire within my heart to Live and encourages me to savor life.

We will ALL die (naturally) according to Scripture.  We do not know what tomorrow holds and most who meet untimely and sudden death was not expecting it.  Natural life can truly be compared to a ‘vapor’ or a ‘puff of steam’ for even if we live into our 80’s, 90’s or 100’s it is only a wisp of smoke on the eternal clock of God. 

If we are conscious of our mortality without succumbing to the morbidity of dwelling on it in fear, I believe we will be more careful in our decisions, associations, words, deeds, and the life we choose to live.  We will be more conscious of the opportunities to share our faith with others knowing this opportunity might be that person’s last chance to hear.  We will treasure our relationships in a new light and with a new zeal and vigor.  Like the commercial:  “You only go around once in life so grab all the gusto you can…”  I realize it was a beer commercial and not talking about what I am but in a small way it is applicable.  You pass through this life one time and where you are now you have never been before and will never be again so Treasure the Moment and Seize the Opportunities Before You! 

If you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior having received the forgiveness of sin you are Alive Eternally although this physical tabernacle will perish one day.  As I prayed just the other day, tears welled up in my eyes, and my heart was broken as I sought the Lord in David’s Prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, renew in me a right spirit and do not take the Holy Spirit from me.”  I want to be a vessel the Master can and does use!  I want to fulfill my purposes in my generation!  I want to be a deposit of God in this present world and when my time to depart comes what I leave behind will live in hearts elevating them to greater heights and a fuller life! 

            May God be with you as you go through this day!  LIVE LIFE!   God bless you!

Comfort, Proclaim Good News


Isaiah 40:1-5 (TLV)

Sharing these notes from my son Tim Beaird. 

40 “Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God.

God is speaking to His people.  He’s communicating comfort and giving His people comfort.  This is the same God that spoke all of creating into existence, so when He speaks comfort it’s not without power or purpose.

Speak kindly to the heart of Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed. For she has received from Adonai’s hand double for all her sins.

We are given an example of how to speak and proclaim to our city, state, nation, and capital.  He said, “speak kindly to the heart”, which could mean the physical capital, or the heart could be her people.  Then, “proclaim to her that her warfare has ended”.  Warfare is defined as including “engagement in conflict” and the opposite of this would be not engaging in conflict…which would be peaceful.

A voice cries out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of Adonai, Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

God speaks intentionally and He always has multitudes listening to hear and obey His direction.  Creations like angelic, human, or anything else that lives respond to His voice.  When creation recognizes Him for who and all He is then the words He says are worth listening and the direction He gives worth obeying.  You learn He never says a careless word…that every whispered word from Him has great value & purpose.  When someone worth listening to and obeying speaks you don’t miss a single word…it makes you put more value in it.  The verse in TLV says “A voice cries out in the wilderness”.  Wilderness is defined as a region that is uncultivatable, uninhabitable, and inhospitable. 

Hospitable is defined as “friendly and welcoming to strangers or guests.”  We can live in the wilderness spiritually, affecting our natural life also, because we aren’t friendly and welcoming to someone that might seem strange…a guest called the Holy Spirit.  If we aren’t hospitable to the Holy Spirit, then we aren’t hospitable to Jesus.  If we aren’t hospitable to Jesus, then we aren’t hospitable to God.  The intimacy He desires and created us to have stops and can’t proceed any further. 

But if we are open, friendly, and welcoming to the Holy Spirit then we are hospitable and can then be habitable also.  The Holy Spirit needs us to be habitable for what needs to happen next.  Habitable is defined as “suitable or good enough to live in”.  We can’t be suitable or good enough if we aren’t friendly and welcoming to guests that might seem strange to us.  So, if He whispers or guides and we don’t react properly then He weren’t hospitable and won’t be habitable. 

But if we are hospitable then we can be habitable.  If we are habitable then we can be cultivatable.  Cultivatable is defined as “capable of being farmed productively”.  The definition for Cultivate includes “improving, preparing, plowing, fertilizing, promoting growth, developing, and being productive”.  So, if we can’t be friendly & welcoming to the Holy Spirit then we can’t have Him live in us, and we won’t see the results that God desires for our lives.  

Every valley will be lifted up, every mountain and hill made low, the rough ground will be a plain
and the rugged terrain smooth.

This verse describes everything that you see and have known being flipped or reversed.  What you’ve seen with your eyes and thought was how the world and your environment are becoming different.  It starts with having the type of relationship with the Holy Spirit that God desires for us.  Jesus knew the significance of the Holy Spirit, even describing the reason He was leaving earth was to allow the Holy Spirit to come.  The entire purpose of the Holy Spirit is the make the highway for Jesus to return.  He does that through relationship and development of each of us on a personal and intimate level.  When you live with someone that are friends with you, learn a lot about them and if they are a good influence then you benefit and grow personally.  You begin to work together, talk alike, think alike, and react the same way…people notice how similar you and your friends have become. 

The glory of Adonai will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together.”
From the mouth of Adonai has spoken.

So, when we are hospitable, habitable, and cultivatable then we are developed & productive in the Kingdom and our lives because of our relationship with the Holy Spirit.  When that happens then the Glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh (every living thing) will see it.  The second part of this verse says something very specific, “For the mouth of Adonai (the Lord) has spoken”.  Remember that God never speaks a careless word.  God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are unified and work as one.  So, when we hear the Holy Spirit speak to us it’s as if Jesus and God spoke to us.  This is the same God that spoke all of creation into existence, and now He has said…

When you’re hospitable to my Holy Spirit your hospitable to me. 

When you’re hospitable then you can be habitable, so my Holy Spirit will live in you.  You’ll have me living in you.

When you let me live in you then I can develop and cultivate you, you’re cultivatable, so I’ll make you productive and develop you in ways you can’t. 

When you let me cultivate you then I can honor the words I’ve already spoken and reveal my glory to every living thing. 

I share this from my youngest son, Timothy. May God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day He has made!

CAN WE OBEY THIS COMMAND???


Proverbs 25:21-22 – “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”  NKJV

It is a difficult thing in the realm of human emotions to extend a hand of love to someone who has set out to hurt you or has hurt you.  I have had Church people tell me, “I don’t get mad I get even.”  I had a preacher tell me, “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me three times and I’ll destroy you.”  He felt that he was following the directive of the Lord to turn the other cheek and once he had turned both cheeks, he was at liberty to take matters into his own hand and respond in kind.  Somehow, I find that incompatible with the overall directives of the LORD and the Bible.

Here we are instructed to feed a hungry enemy and give water to a thirsty enemy.  I can tell you from experience that is often difficult.  This can be expanded beyond the basic needs of food and drink.  Jesus told us to love our enemies.  I hear Christians say, “I love them, but I don’t like them and want nothing to do with them.”  I have often wondered if I can truly love someone I truly do not like and abhor their presence.  Some have demonstrated their vileness and willingness to harm those they find in need.  How do we respond?  How did Jesus respond to those who sought his death?

The second portion of this is fascinating.  I recall a dear old saint telling me that by doing the first part of this directive we got our pound of flesh because God would burn them up as a result.  As a young minister, I found that a very difficult interpretation for that would seem to indicate that God was authorizing vengeance and retaliation.  I know the Old Testament taught an eye for an eye but when we get to the New Testament, we find our LORD instructing us to love our neighbors and love those who sought our hurt.  I sought the LORD to better understand.

Let me suggest that when we view the Day of Atonement process the high priest would take his censer, fill it with coals of fire, put incense on it and the result was a sweet-smelling aroma.  As I contemplated that the thought that came to mind is that the coals of fire are the conviction of the Holy Spirit and when we place the incense of acts of love and kindness even to an enemy there is a sweet aroma that rises.  It may not be immediate and the heart could be so hard it never happens but the likely result is that our acts will open the door for the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and burn inside the heart of that one deemed an enemy.  It will produce a condition like that of Paul on the Damascus Road where Jesus said, “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.” 

If we give blow for blow, reviling for reviling, insult for insult we drive a wedge that will make it difficult to overcome.  However, if in the process of my hurt we extend the kindness, graciousness, and love of Christ we provide the LORD with a pathway to bring conviction to the heart.  Our act of kindness and Christian charity will burn in the heart and mind of that one.  They may view us as weak and laugh at our acts, but it will be difficult for them to totally dismiss our response. 

God bless you as you go through this day!

VALENTINE’S DAY – Ours or Gods?


1 John 4:7-21 – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”  NASB

Have you ever stopped to think about God’s view of Eros love?  How does God feel about romantic love?  We have adopted a celebration focused on Love, physical, emotional, and romantic and it is called Valentine’s Day.  Cupids are flying around and the exchange of flowers, chocolates, gifts, etc. all designed to elicit emotional responses from our partner, mate, or lover.  It is a Big Deal and woe unto the man who forgets it.

            But, how did Valentine’s Day evolve and become what it is today?  It seems that it began around the legend of a mythical and obscure saint.  In a short time of research, I discovered that there were more than one St. Valentine and the celebration has morphed into a pop culture phenomenon with the exchange of greeting cards, flowers, and confectionaries.  It began in England and quickly took hold in the United States and much of the world. 

            February 14th was originally a feast day commemorating the death of a martyr but has become a celebration of Eros love.  That is a giant leap.  Some have suggested that it was adopted because 5th Century Pope Gelasius I abolished the ancient Roman fertility festival, Lupercalia (February 15th).  Human sexual drive and the infatuation with Eros or Romantic Love may have driven people to mesh that with Valentine’s Day.  What we do know is that “Volantynys Day” emerged in a romantic poem by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th Century and it has been with us since.

HOW SHOULD BELIEVERS APPROACH VALENTINE’S DAY?

I would say, celebrate it as purely as possible.  Valentine was a saint and Eros are not Cupid’s domain it is God’s.  Christians can and should unashamedly and exuberantly celebrate romantic love.  We should prove to be the strongest guardians of God’s design for men and women (marriage).  There are boundaries to be observed but God made Romantic Love for us to enjoy. 

1 Timothy 6:17 concurs, Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” 

Who is a greater romantic than God Himself? 

BE DRUNK WITH LOVE…

Although the Bible places limits on many things and demands moderation, in the area of love we are enjoined to become inebriated.  Sexual sin is pervasive and prevalent in today’s society and it has found inroads in the church.  In the 60’s the term was ‘shacking up’ referring to couples living together and engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage.  That was unacceptable among Christians but in much of today’s Christian world, it is not viewed with any condemnation or restriction. 

When a couple engages in sexual intercourse, they become one flesh and are joined spiritually together.  The Bible reveals how those sexual sins outside of marriage can become soul ties that can reach for generations and become heavy weights keeping us from the freedom of marital purity and damage our spirits and relationship with God.

But moving beyond the damage and danger of sexual perversion and sexual sin let’s focus on the Intoxication that God desires regarding Love. 

Song of Solomon 5:1 – “…friends; drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.” 

Wow!  Be drunk with Love!  How many of you are drunk with love for your mate?  How many are drunk with love for the LORD?  It’s okay to be completely hopelessly in love with the person who is your soulmate for life.

The Wine of Love is permissible and encouraged. 

Song of Solomon 1:2 – “May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!  For your love is better than wine.” 

Song of Solomon 4:10 – “How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!  How much better is your love than wine…”

Song of Solomon 2:4 – “He has brought me to his banquet hall, (literally the House of Wine) And his banner over me is love.” 

Song of Solomon 7:2 – “And your mouth like the best wine!”  “It goes down smoothly for my beloved, flowing gently through the lips of those who fall asleep.” 

 This is a picture of being totally enraptured and captivated by Love for your Lover, your Spouse, your Mate!

REKINDLE THE FLAME OF LOVE…

Tragically some married people have lost the fire and their taste for the Wine of Love.  They take each other for granted and fail to work at kindling the spark that was once a raging fire inside.  We need to walk back through the vineyards and see if the little foxes (cares of life) have spoiled those vines.  We need to AWAKEN LOVE! 

Song of Solomon 3:5 – “…awaken my love…”

Husbands you need to reread:

Song of Solomon 4:1-5 – “How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful you are!  Your eyes are like doves behind your veil; Your hair is like a flock of goats That have descended from Mount Gilead.  2 “Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn ewes Which have come up from their washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost her young.  3 “Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate Behind your veil. 4 “Your neck is like the tower of David Built with rows of stones, on which are hung a thousand shields, All the round shields of the mighty men. 5 “Your two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle, which feed among the lilies.”

Don’t be prudish and fail to drink in the physical and spiritual beauty of your wife.

I also encourage you to reread:

Song of Solomon 7:1-4 – “How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter! The curves of your hips are like jewels, The work of the hands of an artist.  2 “Your navel is like a round goblet Which never lacks mixed wine; Your belly is like a heap of wheat Fenced about with lilies.  3 “Your two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle.  4 “Your neck is like a tower of ivory, your eyes like the pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath-rabbim; Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon, which faces toward Damascus.” 

Wives, I encourage you to read:

Song of Solomon 5:10-16 – “My beloved is dazzling and ruddy, Outstanding among ten thousand. 11 “His head is like gold, pure gold; His locks are like clusters of dates, And black as a raven. 12 “His eyes are like doves, beside streams of water, bathed in milk, and reposed in their setting. 13 “His cheeks are like a bed of balsam, Banks of sweet-scented herbs; His lips are lilies, Dripping with liquid myrrh. 14 “His hands are rods of gold Set with beryl; His abdomen is carved ivory Inlaid with sapphires. 15 “His legs are pillars of alabaster Set on pedestals of pure gold; His appearance is like Lebanon, Choice as the cedars. 16 “His mouth is full of sweetness. And he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”   

He may not look that way to anyone else, but it is okay for you to drink in his physical as well as spiritual attributes.

God wants married lovers to experience deeply, and future lovers to anticipate, the full-orbed sensual and spiritual pleasure of erotically loving another embodied soul.  His design is for this to occur within the safe chamber of marriage because forbidden intoxication can kill. 

Proverbs 5:15-19 – “Drink water from your own cistern, And fresh water from your own well.  16 Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be yours alone, And not for strangers with you.  18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love.” 

God gives a warning in:  

Proverbs 5:20-23 – “For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress, and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?  21 For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He watches all his paths. 22 His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin.  23 He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.” 

We have made Eros love something taboo to be talked about and enjoyed as Christians and that is not God’s desire, design, or plan.  He forbids engaging in sex outside of marriage.  Love is far more than physical but the physical is a part of God’s design.  Paul instructs in 1 Corinthians 7:1-15 that we are not to deny each other the desired and required physical contact.  This helps prevent the temptation to stray and drink from forbidden cisterns.

I AM MY BELOVED AND MY BELOVED IS MINE…

There is much more to the Song of Solomon than marital Eros.  In it is woven the mystery of the Great Romance.  God reveals this beautiful journey in:

Ephesians 5:31-32 – “For this cause, a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”

This romance of marriage, the oneness of the marital union, is descriptive of the Marriage of Christ and His Church, His Bride.  In that relationship, we know the depth of the intoxication of Love and the power of becoming One.

Jesus said in John 15:7 – “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.”   

The oneness and the power of abiding are revealed powerfully if you back up a few verses and read in John 15:4-11 – “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8 “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” 

John’s message is simple: God is love. God loves us. Because of God’s love for us, we should love one another. And if we don’t love one another, we can’t really love God. Got that? It’s a simple message, but it has the potential to have a profound impact on our community as well as upon the larger world in which we live. It’s a small idea, loving others because God loves us, but an idea that has life-changing and world-changing consequences.

I’m want to share a story, adapted from Hermann Hesse’s fairy tale, Augustus.

A young woman gave birth to her first child just a month after her husband had died in a tragic accident. She was from a caring and loving church. They were all concerned about her and they threw a great shower, providing her with all she’d need to care for his child.  She named the boy Victor, after her deceased husband. After the shower, when all the guests had gone, Doc Burns, an eccentric old man who lived nearby, and who wasn’t really a doctor, stopped by. He said that he, too, had a gift for the young boy. But his gift was unique; he would grant the mother one wish for her son. The woman was to tell him of her wish before the son’s baptism the next Sunday. All that week the woman pondered.  Finally, on the morning of the baptism, she decided to ask that all might love her son. Doc Burns granted the wish.

Everyone loved Victor as he grew up. All the children wanted to play with him; all the adults thought he was the most perfect child. Even when Victor responded to others with scorn and contempt, they still loved him. He graduated from high school and went on to a respected college, all the while living a life of ease. He was the life of the party. He drove a big car and wore fancy clothes. After college, he never worked very hard. “I collect horses, dogs, and women,” he often bragged. There were no pleasures he didn’t indulge in, and no vice he didn’t practice. Yet, everyone raved about him and the women couldn’t leave him alone. All the while his heart grew empty and his soul sicker. He became disgusted.  He was tired of living.

One-night Victor had had enough. He went home and prepared to commit suicide. But before he could raise the glass of poison to his lips, Doc Burns stopped by. He was even older now and moved slower. Victor demanded to be left alone, but the good old man plopped himself down into a chair and began to talk. He confessed he was a part of the reason Victor was so miserable.  He told him about his mother’s wish that her son be loved by all. “It was a foolish wish,” Doc Burns admitted. “Suppose I offer you another wish, make it anything you want, and I will fulfill it.”  But be careful, the good Doc warned, “for wishes have a way of coming true.”

Victor didn’t think that Doc could give him anything that he didn’t already have, but the old man encouraged him to think about what truly made him happy. After much pondering, Victor said he wished for the old magic to be taken away and instead of being loved by everyone, he wished he could love everyone in the world. “That’s a good wish,” Doc Burns nodded in agreement, “it’ll bring you happiness.”

But Victor didn’t find happiness right away. Instead, without his great charm, he found friends disserting him, others retaliated for his past wrongs. He was even thrown into jail for a few months and when he was released, he was penniless, sick, and alone. He returned to his childhood home where he nursed his ailing mother, returning the love she’d once given him. He also took a job as a janitor in a school, where he not only cleaned the floors but loved the children. Finally, he met a young widow and married her, giving her and her children the love they needed. Poor in money, Victor became one of the richest men in the world. For he discovered that it is in loving, not in being loved, life can be lived to its fullness.

Francis of Assisi taught: “it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in loving that we are loved.” Go out and love the world!  And remember, being loved isn’t nearly as important as loving others. Amen.

Never, never, never, give up on Love and never, never, never stop doing those little things that convey the depth of your love to your wife or husband.  In the Marriage Union, we are reflecting on what it is for the Church to be One with Christ.  We are demonstrating to our children and the world the depth of Love and the power of marital purity.

I pray that on this Valentine’s Day you will begin the journey of rekindling the flame of love for your husband or wife.  I pray that you will allow the Holy Spirit to help you learn to Love other people.  I pray that you will find a new awareness of God’s mercy, love, and grace and allow the Love of God to be shed abroad in your hearts through Christ Jesus and Love Him with your entire body, soul, strength, and spirit.

CONCLUSION:       

Do you know Jesus? Do you Love as He Loves? Do you want to know Him, and Love like Him?

God Bless you and HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

THE GOSPEL IS CONFRONTATIONAL…


2 Timothy 4:1-6 – “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”  NKJV

I had someone tell me that the Gospel should not be confrontational.  They offered that in criticism of my opposition to the casual Laissez-faire attitude of some of today’s church world.  In their view, the prime objective of the church is to be seeker friendly meaning that we should not confront anyone, any lifestyle, attitude, or actions just live and let live.  In their view, the church was akin to a country club where people came together for networking, social relationships, and various interpersonal interactions.  It was not, in their view, to Confront for that would make people uncomfortable.

If I believe the Bible as the Word of God and have any confidence in its inerrancy, then I find that view completely foreign to the Bible.  Jesus confronted sin and at times virtually baited the Pharisees into a confrontation in order to illustrate the message of the Gospel clearly and distinctly.  The disciples in Acts were arrested for being confrontational and declared to the religious hierarchy, “Whom shall we obey, God or man?”  Paul here in this text instructed Timothy to, “Preach the word!”  He was to be ready at all times and his message and ministry was to convince, rebuke and exhort’  It was to be done with longsuffering and love, but the clear directive is to confront sin. 

I have had people tell me that confrontational preaching not only made people uncomfortable it scared people.  I would say as a very senior minister once said, “If I could keep people out of hell by scaring them, I’d scare the hell out of them.”  He wasn’t trying to cuss just stating the incredible importance of confronting sin and helping people understand its dangers and destruction. 

Jesus never promised us a life of comfort and ease.  I have found that the conviction of the Holy Spirit renders one quite uncomfortable.  It challenges a mindset or lifestyle and exposes it.  Jesus said in John 16:8 that when the Holy Spirit came, He would Convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.  We are told the wages of sin is death.  It seems that too much of today’s world of Christendom strives to be non-confrontational and rather than changing lives it facilitates lifestyles foreign to the central message of the Gospel.

The Gospel in its very nature is confrontational for it exposes sin and when sin is exposed the flesh is made uneasy, often angered, and challenged.  I am not saying we have to be caustic, but we must be consistent in opposition to a lifestyle of sin.  If we condone sin, we become facilitators in the continuation of it and how could one suggest Jesus condoned sin?  Immediately, someone suggests the woman taken in adultery and suggested that Jesus condoned her sin.  Really?  He followed the prescription of the Law and when no witnesses remained, he refused to condemn but said, “Go and SIN NO MORE!” 

If we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ it will be confrontational, but that confrontation will lead to reconciliation and redemption.  The church is not a social club it is a hospital and rehab center.  It is a university of life.  It is a training facility.  It is a refuge.  It covers lives with love, but it can never be understood to be a place where sin can remain with no discomfort. 

God bless you as you go through your day!