“Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent.” Hebrews 6:11 NLT
My thoughts: Loving other people is the gateway to resist spiritual dullness and indifference. Where I lack enthusiasm and zeal for God, I do not maintain an appropriate measure of love for others. If people do not know I love them, then I lack enthusiasm for God. Often, people emphasize passion for God and overlook the foundational element of love for other people. We are not passionate for God if we do not love other people.
The biblical definition of love for other people is to demonstrate the same love Christ has for us in our love for one another. “So I give you now a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you” (John 13:34). This intense, powerful, fierce love is how I must love other people. This Spirit-driven love indicates that I am passionate for God. It is not a love I can self-manufacture. It is a love impossible to show without Christ in me.
Jesus set a higher standard of commandments in the New Testament. For instance, Jesus teaches “Your ancestors have been taught, ‘Never commit adultery.’ However, I say to you if you look with lust in your eyes at the body of a woman who is not your wife, you’ve already committed adultery in your heart.” (Matthew 5:28) He did not raise the standard to make it more difficult for us to serve Him. He raised the standard of commitment for us to trust in Him more for help. The moment we say “Yes” to Christ, He comes to live within us and empowers us to fulfill His commands. Now, we cannot take credit for our obedience to His radical commandments. Our human nature and weakness alone cannot fulfill His commands. We need a personal relationship with Christ.
Therefore, this Biblical love is impossible without the help of God.
Prayer: “Lord, thank You for the priceless gift of Your love. Help me to love other people with the same passionate love You show to me. Teach me to walk in close relationship with You and love You more! I ask for a new measure of Your empowerment to overcome my weaknesses.”
Proverbs 12:3 “A man will not be established by wickedness, But the root of the righteous will not be moved.”
My thoughts: A man cannot be established in wickedness because he is not rooted in an eternal foundation. As a child of God, my faith is rooted in the eternal Rock of Salvation. The root of the righteous is faith in Jesus. We obtain righteousness through faith in Him (Romans 3:22). The root of our faith is established in Him. This root is immovable because He is immovable. Therefore, our faith is not dictated by circumstances. The term “wavering faith” is a misused term. Real faith in God does not waver. The Bible does not associate faith in God with “wavering”. Instead, it shows a contrast between unbelief and faith:
“yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,” Romans 4:20 .
The word “waver” is associated with unbelief, not faith in God. God is the root of my faith. It is not faith in God if I waver. God is immovable! If my faith is in Him, I will be immovable. To say “My faith in God wavers” is to say “He wavers”. How can my faith in Him waver unless He wavers? If I waver, it is not faith in Him. It is unbelief- faith in the inferior. Anything less than God is inferior! Anything less than God is everything less than good.
With this said, a moment of unbelief does not define an entire faith walk. We all fall short. Faith in God is revealed in a consistent walk, not a perfect walk. There are moments of unbelief for each of us. However, unbelief is not an excuse to believe our faith in God wavers. It is an indication of inferior faith attacking the root of our faith in God. We must cut it off with more commitment to Christ. In this new year, let us refocus our hearts on Christ and commit our full attention to Him! His love for us is steadfast with authentic devotion. The world can never offer us the treasure of His kindness. Let us look to Him with anticipation and trust Him with our lives! Do not settle for faith in the inferior. The world cannot offer us abundant life. God will never let us down!
John 11:2 “It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.”
My thoughts: The act of Mary is preached about across the world. Everywhere the Gospel message is shared, her story is known. Jesus said “Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13). Mary did not defend her honor or status. She let loose her hair and wept at the feet of Jesus. She was misunderstood. Her action deeply offended the political norm in her society. She knew the value of Christ and broke down at His feet. Her honest and vulnerable surrender before God is recorded in history. Mary did identify herself with a vulnerable act. Her act of worship revealed her identification with God. She identified herself with Christ and broke down before Him in the company of men. She understood the value of Christ set before her. To her, passion for God was not about recognition or fame.
Not once at the feet of Jesus did Mary say “I hope my devotion makes the front news headline”. Authentic passion for God will preach. I do not believe the act of Mary is about what she did. It is about who she was when she did it. Anyone could break down before God and expend perfume, especially if it guaranteed recognition. However, until we have a heart so captivated by God alone, our breaking of perfume is nothing more than an attempt to be exalted with Him. If I break down, let it be because I am captivated by His greatness, not because I want His fame. Do not attach your worship to His fame and seek the fulfillment of an insatiable desire for social acceptance and influence. Do not attach your worship to the fame of Christ to market self promotion. Attach your worship to the person of Christ and break down before Him. If it is about Him, it is not about us. My focus is not for God to be seen with me. My focus is to be seen with Him. The truth is, God will not allow Himself to be seen with me until I surrender my reputation to be seen with Him. This is not about God promoting my image. It is about me representing Him.
Her act of brokenness is a pure form of worship, sanctified unto God. It was not about the fellow men in her midst, but about the Son of God before her. May I be like Mary, humble at the feet of Christ with thankful and beautiful worship. Let God be set in front of me. Who I become at the feet of Jesus is more important than what I do in the midst of people. What I do in the company of men does not matter if it is not at the feet of Jesus. Let everything I do be unto the Lord!
Often, Christians create an image of God that suits their lifestyle and never allow His reality to transform their lifestyle. They emphasize certain aspects of God’s character and skillfully craft a 21st Century American, lukewarm, apathetic, halfhearted, Jesus. If all I ever see is the Jesus who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, I will miss the Jesus who commands the Armies of Heaven. Every character trait of God is perfect. However, when I take the perfection of God out of Biblical context, it is possible for me to create a humanistic Jesus programmed to love my preferences. He is not a mail order bride who cooks for me, brushes my hair, reads me a bedtime story or feeds me once a week when I am tired after a “long week”. He is an all-consuming fire with a fierce love that commands surrender. The comfortable American Gospel promoted throughout the dead church world promises much, but demands little. In Chapter 5 of the book “My Absurd Religion”, Steve Gray confronts the humanistic ideology that calls us to “love ourselves”, “forgive ourselves” and “hug ourselves”. This appealing, yet dangerous message leads many people to church but no one to Christ. While it increases church attendance, it robs us of knowing God and commands us to pursue manmade self-help methods. Self-help methods offer encouragement without empowerment and a pride driven system without His immediate salvation power. God is not distant in a far-off galaxy. He is alive and powerful, offering a new life now! The truth is, this humanistic ideology does not appeal to the lost, hurting, broken, oppressed, sick, and defeated. The desperate need more than a motivational speech or lukewarm church service. The desperate need the very power of God to infiltrate their lifeless situation and commence a new beginning. Without the presence of God, the church is simply living in a New, Old Covenant! As for my generation, most of us could care less if Jesus loves us. Many of us are bound in addiction, suicidal tendencies, fear, and torment. We need more than church sponsored movie nights with popcorn and chips. This cotton candy Christianity will not survive in an all or nothing generation. We are not taught to worship with passion at church so we do it at the clubs. We do not know how to be intimate with the Father so we pursue fornication. My generation is going all out for this world while most churches are trying to decide if Jesus is worth everything. If I am not going to give Jesus everything, I do not want to give Him anything. I refuse to misrepresent Christ and promote a humanistic message built on compromise. I cannot do that to my generation. More importantly, I cannot do that to God.
I don’t stand in the way of sinners of sit in the seat of mockers (Psalm 1:1). I stand in the gap (Ezekiel 22:30) for dead men and sit in Heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). My prayers do not echo old circumstances. My prayers dictate the future of this world. The power of God’s Spirit upon my intercession and warfare transplants me across the world and empowers me to declare His goodness over every tribe, tongue, and nation. I pray with faith. God answers every prayer I pray and moves in power each time I utter “Abba, Father”. His hand is not too short. Therefore, my prayers are not too short. Time does not confine me to a short period of petition. I will keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. The door will be opened to me (Matthew 7:7-8). I pray with power, authority and strength. I do not pray as if the devil is winning. I do not say “God, please take the devil away” Instead, I pray “In the name of Yeshua, I rebuke the devil!” My prayer is not limited to the potential of human vocabulary. I can groan with deep passion in my soul and call upon His name in wonder. I can speak in the tongue of angels (1 Corinthians 13:1) and declare the mysteries of Heaven. I can present to God a broken and contrite spirit (Psalm 51:17) or silently yearn for His glory and goodness.
I have calmed and quieted my soul. Like a weaned child is my soul within me (Psalm 131:2). I am not disturbed by difficulties. Instead, I disturb the potential destruction of situations. My prayers cut off terrorist attacks, annihilate wickedness, and infiltrate empires with the Gospel message. My prayers are not weak, halfhearted, flimsy or breakable. The hand of God upon my prayers is powerful to uproot, demolish, and expose every principality and power of darkness in the unseen realm. I do not pray in vain. My prayers do not drop dead or fall like a weight to the ground. My prayers skyrocket to Heaven and draw upon the heart of God. His intervention is irrevocable. His power is indispensable. God will respond as I call upon His name and I will listen to His voice when He speaks! His words are refreshing to my soul, like endless rain from Heaven.
The power of Almighty God is upon my prayers to pull dead people out of morgues, save people from ICU, empty out hospitals, kill cancer with a word, and deliver people from chronic pain. My intercession and warfare is not limited to man made ideas or principles. My prayers are not nonchalant or inexpensive. They are Spirit led and empowered. I will fight, reach, push, pull, and roll with sweat dripping down my face as I earnestly intercede. As I intercede, I will rest in perfect assurance and confidence of His power to save. I will do whatever it takes to see His Kingdom come and His will be done (Matthew 6:1). I dive into the secret place of prayer. All of Heaven will find me here. No sound of man will interfere. God Himself is drawing near! I am not content with worldwide contention. Hear me running, O Lord! I come to seek Your face and pray as if it were my last day on this earth.
Matthew 7:21-23 ”Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
My thoughts: A real relationship with God allows Him to access and transform every aspect of our lives. Currently, many American churches reproduce lawless Christians. Lawless Christians profess to know all about Christ when God knows nothing about them. Lawless Christians live in community with each other while neglecting intimacy with Christ. They do not follow the will of God or listen to His voice. As diseased trees, workers of lawlessness try to bear good fruit outside of a covenant relationship with God (Matthew 7:17). They try to manipulate the system of God and walk in the benefits of His power without submitting to His Lordship. They call out “Lord, Lord” when He is really their “Enemy, enemy.” Because of God’s great power and mercy, He allows lawless people to operate in miracles for the sake of His name. While this is true, our operation in the miraculous does not substitute our submission to His Lordship. The truth is, healing the sick, prophesying, casting out demons, and preaching the Gospel message means nothing to God if we do not surrender completely to Him. Leading worship, attending church and participating in mission outreach is meaningless if we do not walk with God. God does not know us because of what we do. He knows us for who we are in Him.
I do not find my identity in good works. I do good because I understand my identity in Christ. Everything I do for God will overflow out of an intimate walk with Him. It is dangerous to value good deeds over knowing Christ. God is not enamored with our works. He is the one who empowers us to work! God mightily loves who we are. If we do not understand who we are in Him, we will not reflect who He is in this world. Who we are in Christ is a direct reflection of who He is in us.
Do not sacrifice your relationship with God on the altar of ministry. Ministry is the byproduct of our walk with God, not the center focus. God still desires to walk in close fellowship with His creation. Anything but a close relationship with God will not survive in this day or on judgement day when we stand before Him. If we do not know God now, He will not know us then. To know Christ is more than to know about Him or develop a historical understanding of His works. To know Christ is to walk in close fellowship with Him and pursue an intimate relationship with Him everyday!
Luke 17:20-21 NKJV “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.””
My thoughts: In His statement “the Kingdom of God is within you” Jesus told the Pharisees both the time and location of His Kingdom. Other Bible translations say “the Kingdom of God is among you.” It does not matter whether the translation reads the Kingdom is “among us” or “within us”. In this statement, Jesus is emphasizing the closeness of His Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is closer than we think! We can reach out and grasp it. God is not isolated from His people in a far off distant galaxy. He is in our midst, offering each person abundant life right NOW! If we do not see the Kingdom of God active in our lives, it is probably because we do not have an active relationship with God.
The Kingdom of God does not come with observation. We either experience and participate in His Kingdom or we observe and miss His Kingdom. Many people think they are “waiting upon the Lord” when they are really contemplating whether they should give Him everything. Many people think they are “waiting upon the Lord” when He is really waiting upon them to participate in His Kingdom. Waiting upon the Lord is not standstill observation. Waiting upon the Lord is an active step of faith toward Him everyday and a patient admiration of His beautiful workings.
Many people are content with spectating a move of God instead of becoming a person whom God moves. By His power, God enables us to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons. Through us, He wants to extend His grace and reach this world! If we do not participate in this Kingdom lifestyle then we are pretending He exists. Stop pretending He exists and surrender your life to Him!
The Greek word for “within” in this passage is the same Greek word used in Matthew 23:26 when Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and says “First wash the INSIDE of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too“. If we wholeheartedly seek God everyday, He will transform us from the inside out and change our lifestyle. This God-directed lifestyle is what distinguishes an individual observing God’s Kingdom from an individual participating in His Kingdom. His Kingdom is at hand to expose our hidden sin, character flaws, lack of love, unforgiveness and evil motives. Many churches emphasize operating in the power of God, yet never allow God to expose and destroy their lack of love. Power and love coincide with one another (2 Timothy 1:7)! If we really seek His Kingdom first, people will notice the difference in our walk and start listening to our talk. As we make changes and allow God to change us, we can offer both power and love to the world! As He cleans the the inside of the cup, the vibrant fruit of our faith will follow and people will indeed see that “The Kingdom of God is within us.”