Wednesday, April 22, 2015

In Love With God - lesson 12

In Love With God - lesson 12

Living In Jesus’ Love

Believing and accepting Jesus’ love

  Living in Jesus’ love. I’ve been thinking lately how easy it is to fall into thinking that Jesus’ answers to prayer are signs of His love and that when we are seeing things come to pass, that we are abiding in His love and when we are seeing adversity and trials then we are not abiding in His love because the circumstances are so overwhelming us that we have no peace.

  Now the reality is that we are always going to be in a battle or struggle of some kind because that is the very nature of going forward in Christ. There will always be something new coming at us in order to not only shape our character but to win victories on behalf of others. I often remind the Lord that I love Him and trust Him but that I’m also in the middle of a battle that affects my every day life. If king David was standing outside a city God had told him to conquer and the fighting was intense, he would still be in the will and love of God even though he was in a challenging battle that God had called him to. Abiding in the Lord also meant fighting the battle in front of him, and if the battle seemed to be taking longer than he had expected or was more painful than he had expected, how does this affect his relationship with the Lord? Does his peace with God get tested and he begin to complain to the Lord that He should have never asked him to fight this battle because it just isn’t going well and all his men are weary of the fight? Or does he say in his heart, “how this battle seems to be going is just impossible but it will have no affect on my relationship and peace in the Lord.” 

  It is so easy to say that if the battle is going well than we are in a good place with the Lord and abiding in Him, but if the battle is causing us extreme exhaustion and wounds, then we must not be doing well in the Lord.

  Separating the battle from our love and trust in the Lord seems to be the real challenge. The Lord is not our battle. He is the person with whom we are developing a real relationship with. The battle may send us back to Him repeatedly for instruction to know if we are fighting correctly and are doing all according to His plans, but the relationship with Him is what we want to focus on the most. He is not the battle and the battle is not Him. He is the commander and we are His willing servants. He has been reminding me lately that He is not the battle and that I need to actually let Him love me. 
  “And behold the Lord was passing by! And a great strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of gentle blowing.” 1 Kings 19:11-12

  Whether the battle is going good or bad. Whether it is exhausting or triumphant. It doesn’t change my relationship with Him. He is glad that my heart is fixed firmly on Him and doing His will no matter what. All the endurance and trust please Him, but it is in the area of letting Him love me that I seem to fall so short in. Somehow it is easy to get caught up in the struggles of what He asks and not have time to actually let Him love me. He holds out His arms and says, “Let Me love you. My love is not in the battle or even in your service to Me. My love is between you and I. Rest in My love and be at peace. I hold all things in the palm of My hand and will not let go.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

In Love With God - lesson 11

In Love With God - lesson 11

The only thing that I want for this semester 
is for us to be in love with and on fire for God

“Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die. O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”  - Ezekiel 18:31-32

“But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live. Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?  - Ezekiel 18:21-23

     These are amazing verses to ponder for a while. God’s forgiveness is so overwhelming to me. Did you know that there actually can’t be any desire to see a person harmed in order to have full forgiveness? This does not mean that there won’t be pain from discipline, but the actual harm from choosing to live in sin and reaping the consequences of it. The Lord must have no desire to see a person die in order to stand fully ready to receive anyone who would turn back to Him. Bitterness or revenge could never be in His heart or else when a person turned back to Him for forgiveness He actually wouldn’t be glad they did because of the desire to see them pay for their actions. This kind of reminds me of Jonah when He was upset with the Lord for so easily forgiving the people of Nineveh. God’s forgiveness and love are constantly free from anything that would hinder Him from whole-heartedly welcoming back the prodigal son.
     This does not mean that discipline is not required in our lives simply because we are forgiven, but it does mean that all that takes place after turning back to Him will be for our good and will cause His character to be molded deeper into our lives. “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:6

     I want us to think about this whole-hearted forgiveness. It is good to dwell on really understanding how fully we are forgiven because this is our example of how we are also to forgive others. It is a forgiveness that has no bitterness or resentment. We must know how fully we have been forgiven in order to understand how fully we are to forgive. I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of things in my past that I want forgotten. Lately I’ve been telling the Lord, please forget all that I have done before, both good and bad. I don’t want what has gone on before to influence how things go on in the future. The bad I want left behind as a life I never want back and the good I want left behind because it is merely filthy rags as it says in the Bible, (Isaiah 64:6) and has had so many selfish things mixed in with it that I don’t want to go back to that either. I want a deeper walk with the Lord that makes anything good I might have done, seem as not good because of how much more vibrant and full of life my work for the Lord is now! I want a new story full of a deeper passion for Christ! Full of a deeper love for the people around me! Full of a deeper character of Christ etched into my very being! Full of a forgiveness that is as real as the forgiveness God has offered to me!

     This is what the Lord’s pardon has truly brought to me. This is the affect of His forgiveness to me. The ability to never look back, and with a clear and devoted, conscience, be able to love and serve the Lord with all my heart. This is just a little window of what forgiveness means. This is just one or two facets to the many sides of what God’s forgiveness is for us.

     Will we not stand in the fullness of what Jesus has done for us and forgive others just as He has forgiven us? Will we also give people the ability to begin brand new with us and have no grudge or bitterness to overcome when they come to us?  Forgiveness is not dependant on whether someone has asked us to forgive them. It must be already done in our hearts or else bitterness will always stand between us even if there is an outward look of reconciliation. Forgiveness is not waiting for the right moment to forgive. It is already done in our hearts. This is the forgiveness offered to us by the Lord. It is already done but we must turn from the stubbornness of our own ways and desire to walk in His ways with all our heart. It is our own unwillingness that keeps us separated from the Lord, not His lack of forgiveness. It is our own unwillingness to want to leave our sin behind in order to be forgiven.

     When God offers us forgiveness it really is too big to comprehend all that it means. When He says He forgets and casts our sins away as far as the east is to the west which is infinite, it is hard to believe because it is so easy for us to remember our own sins or the hurts someone has caused to us. Just think what total forgiveness means. If you have your license to drive and have made a bunch of infractions which go onto your account just think about how when those years go by and the points are removed, how free you feel! They are no longer being held against you. It’s as if you never made any mistakes while driving before! When you see a police officer you no longer worry that this might be the last time you drive for a while. No, your record is clear! With God, our record becomes clearer than that! Will we also clear others wrongs off of our own records?

     Spend some time thinking about these things. They will change your life. The Lord’s prayer says Father forgive us as we forgive others. We simply must forgive. It is not an option. But the truth is, think about what the Lord’s forgiveness really means to you. It will change the way you live, forever!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

In Love With God - lesson 10

In Love With God - lesson 10

The only thing that I want for this semester 
is for us to be in love with and on fire for God

      Is the Lord the first love of our life?

     Did you know that if you rejoice in the Lord for His answers to your prayers before they come to pass that you have just transitioned from the answer to your prayer being your first love to the Lord being your first love? If you are worried that the thing you are praying for is becoming more important to you than the Lord, this is a good way to be sure that it has been put back properly into it’s place. If the thing you are praying for has started leaving it’s proper place in your life you will fall into despair at every discouraging impasse. You can only truly rejoice in the Lord for victory if He has obtained His rightful position in your heart as your first love. You can only grab hold of His promises with all your heart and survive every discouragement if He has come into His rightful place in your life. Only true trust and love in the Lord will give you the strength to rejoice in the midst of every discouragement.

     Just try truly rejoicing from the bottom of your heart in the midst of your hard circumstances. I bet you can’t. Why not? Because first we will have to let go of our self pity. We will have to believe that the Lord is good and that He is a rewarder of all who diligently seek Him, and this is impossible as long as we want to hang onto our self pity and despair. We have to believe for real that the Lord loves us and is doing and planning the best for us in the midst of our storm.
     And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

     The other day the Lord told me to rejoice. He would not let me enter into any doubts or despair. He literally put a barrier between me and any doubts or even the smallest fear. He said, “You rejoice.” So I got up on my feet and attempted to begin rejoicing and He said to me, “You call that rejoicing?”  I had to laugh at that remark. So I attempted to rejoice more earnestly and again He said, “Do you really call that rejoicing? How would you really rejoice if all I had told you had already taken place?” I had to admit that my attempt at rejoicing still lacked some of the joy of whole hearted believing. This is a good measure of our real trust in the Lord. If His word to us is as real as it would be if it had already been done.

     The Lord has given us the weapon of rejoicing but only our new spiritual man can pick it up and use it. Our old nature of self pity and despair cannot pick up the sword of rejoicing. It is out of reach to it. Only the new man can let go of self pity and despair in order to grab hold of it. It requires a whole hearted love and trust in the Lord to use it effectively. But if our hearts are set on Him than we will find it a very effective weapon against every demonic adversary. It will radically change the entire world around us!
     This morning the Lord had me singing a song I wrote several years ago and when I got to the line
                         “Christ our redeemer is mighty, His victory is here”
I felt my adversary try to overcome me with an extreme darkness that could be felt. So I began singing that line again over and over and immediately my spirit soared into the heavens. The Lord just took me into the fullness of the reality that Christ is mighty and our victory is now! It seems that our adversary always wants us to be in doubt of the actual power of our God and of His ability to actually destroy the enemy right this very moment if we will rise up and praise the Lord in victory.

     Again, the sword of rejoicing can only be handled by the new man in Christ. The old man of self pity and despair must be put to death in order to take it up. So let us take up the sword of rejoicing! It is available to all who truly believe and have confidence in Jesus! He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we have hoped or dreamed!      

          Will we stand with confidence in our Savior today?!