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!
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!
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!
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.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 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!
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.
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.
Do you know Jesus? Do you Love as He Loves? Do you want to know Him, and Love like Him?
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.
Daniel 6:1-5 – “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; 2 and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. 4 So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” NKJV
That which set Daniel apart from his contemporaries is found in the words “because an excellent spirit was in him…” Without attempting to be a Hebrew scholar the word translated excellent means: what hangs over, which is abundant or more than enough. It comes from a root that means: to make plenteous. What was in Daniel stood out, was abundant, and more than enough it was plenteous. It was not an anomaly of character but normal in his life for it proceeded from his spirit. It was who he was!
Those who wanted to destroy Daniel acknowledged this in saying, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel UNLESS we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” [Emphasis mine]. Daniel’s character was such they readily acknowledged his faithfulness and integrity would not offer them a place to accuse him. He not only talked the talk he walked the walk so they had to find another way to bring him down.
Daniel’s integrity would be used against him for they knew that if they could make something within his faith illegal, his integrity and commitment to God would ensnare him. They were right! Daniel’s excellent spirit endeared him to the king but once duped into making a decree he could not safely face and not condemn Daniel for violation of it. This reminds me of the disciples with the Jewish leaders when commanded not to speak anymore in the name of Jesus declared, “Whom shall we obey? You or God?” The Jewish leaders thought they could prevent the disciples from going forward whereas Daniels counterparts hoped for the opposite. They wanted his devotion to God to cause him to disregard the decree of the king and thereby bring him to destruction physically. They were right and they were wrong for we know the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den!
Would to God that we had more today who demonstrated an ‘excellent spirit’ where no fault could be found in our attitude or actions. If we want to see revival, renewal, and restoration in the land we must become more like Daniel having an ‘excellent spirit’ within enabling us to manifest Christ in our lives and interactions with others. That which distinguishes a person or sets them apart is that which emanates from our core being. No wonder David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart and renew in me a right spirit.” He understood that ‘excellence of spirit’ was that which would have the greatest impact on the world in which he lived.
Daniel 11:40-45 – “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. 41 He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. 42 He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also, the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels. 44 But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore, he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many. 45 And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.” – NKJV
Daniel 11 is speaking of the man of sin, the antichrist, and reveals what is going to happen to him and his followers. “He shall come to his end…” He will have ZERO help because God will deal with him directly. That is the conclusion and I have cautioned believers for years to refuse to focus on the wrong thing. STOP worrying about the Antichrist and focus on Christ!
While working for a company that included a very large bank we went through training and one of those sessions dealt with counterfeiting. The lead instructor asked, “What is the best way to identify counterfeit bills?” There were many responses and he then said, “It is by becoming so familiar with the original and real that it is second nature to notice subtle variations.” I have thought about that concerning the devil and his deceptions that if we know the Truth, the Real, Christ and hold the reality that God will not be defeated by the devil we can lay fear to rest.
Please understand, I am not saying there will not be chaos and destruction at the hands of the Antichrist. But even if he were to kill us, he has only accomplished the silencing of our singular voice. He has not hindered the plan or purposes of God. Throughout my lifetime I have heard so many theories of who the man of sin is and most of those are now dead. Some of the modern ones are living and none of them meet my understanding of the Bible prophecies for who he is or his land of origin. I won’t get into that debate here for that is not my purpose. My objective is to urge everyone to shift the focus from Wickedness to Holiness!
Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33 where He cautioned against fretting over what is or might happen. He urged us to make the foundational focus of our hearts, the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness. There are many things in biblical eschatology that I cannot answer I seldom get into debates over them. I love to discuss biblical prophecy and end time events in a session where we are brainstorming and civilly sharing ideas and even theories but when the discussion becomes overly consuming, I move on. I am concerned about where we are as a nation, a world, and a race of people. However, I know biblically that the best way to know the ‘false’ is to know the ‘truth’ and that is Jesus and God’s Word!
My understanding of Scripture and even Daniel 11 suggests that the Antichrist will not dominate the entire world for we are told some escape out of his hands and the news of opposition infuriates him. He will impact the world, but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is our Rock! I have found that which dominates your thoughts controls your life and I refuse to allow the devil to dominate my thoughts.
I desire and strive to bring every thought ‘captive’ to the obedience of Christ. There is a place to ‘warn the wicked’ of impending danger and destruction but at the end of the day, Jesus must be our focus. In warning others, we may prevent their destruction but just warning is insufficient UNLESS we have something for them to ‘run to’ when they ‘run from’ something. That something is the Cross, the Gospel, and the Grace of God!
God bless you as you go through this day and refuse to allow fear to overcome you! God is God and He always will be God! Blessings!
John 21:15-17 – “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”NASB
I have heard some powerful explanations and etymological explanations of this passage and the words or phrases used. Although that is not what I want to focus on here, I do want to address it briefly. In the first question, the original is a bit ambiguous and could have been referring to inanimate objects. Jesus could have been asking Peter if he was willing to forsake all those things for Him (Jesus). But more likely He was asking Peter if he loved Jesus more than the other disciples. Peter having suffered the shame of his rejection of Jesus would make no pretense of loving more than others. He rolled it all on the Lord’s Omniscience and said, “Lord You know.”
My focus is not what words Jesus used in either asking the question or in reference to caring for His church but in the heart and mind of Peter. Peter had abandoned the Lord after making his bold claim that he would never do so and was willing and ready to die for the Lord. Peter had made the decision to ‘go fishing’ not for recreation but to return to his old life as a fisherman. He felt unworthy and he was. He felt the shame of his rejection and abandonment of Jesus, and he should. He had been quick to speak his grandiose claim of his bravery, commitment, and faith and it all came crashing down on him.
I can only imagine how Peter felt as he now stood face to face with His Lord. He needed to be reassured and needed to do some deep personal soul searching and that is what Jesus is doing, at least that is my view. The Lord wanted to strip from Peter the brashness of making claims that he could not back up and bring him to an awareness of how much he must and should depend upon Jesus for everything.
It is in this place and state of mind that Peter could become the mighty warrior for the kingdom that he became. If you question what I’m saying about Peter’s mindset go back and read what the angel said in Mark 16 when the women came to the tomb and found it empty – “go tell His disciples and Peter.” Why specifically identify Peter? Because of what I’ve just said! Peter was in such a dejected state of mind that he was in danger of being lost to the kingdom and the Lord did not want that and prepared to prevent that.
Peter moved from being brash, rash, and boastful to a committed and calculated disciple of Jesus. He moved from dejection to a boldness of faith that caused him to stand before the crowd on the Day of Pentecost and proclaim a message that could possibly get him killed. He stood before the Sanhedrin and was unmoved by their threats and he could face the lame man at the Gate Beautiful and with the risk of ridicule and charge of abusing a cripple, he declared his faith and acted upon it. Peter became what Jesus saw in him when he called him to discipleship. He saw a Rock and that reed was now becoming a Rock in Jesus!
Know that the times of failing and stumbling that you have or may encounter are not evidence that God has rejected you. Realize that when He comes and turns up the heat and you squirm it is not to bring you pain but to enhance that which He has seen in you and make you what He declared you to be.