Saturday, March 28, 2020

My Blood Pressure is Decreasing, Because (Awareness of) His Love is Increasing

"38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)



I am learning so much more about the Love of the Father.

For years, I used to think that bad thoughts, bad feelings would hinder my ability to understand, to receive God's love for me.

I actually believed that God's presence, His loving caress, depended on how I was feeling and what I was thinking.

Can you imagine going through life thinking that how you feel, what you think, is going to affect your standing before God? The torture, the trauma that it created it was just beyond comprehension.

The tension, the trauma, the terror was so great.

I am finally understanding how real, how present, how prevalent God's love is for me. It's really exciting.

I can lose my temper, I can have wayward thoughts and feelings, and yet God's love is still there, still present, still refreshing and rolling over me.

For decades, I was stressed out internally, constantly playing catch-up with my feelings, trying to keep a lid on sexual temptations, lust, anger, fear, etc.

Fears was particularly damaging, because I feared that because I felt fear, that would make God angry and He would not answer my prayers.

This verse started to make so much more sense when I realized that my feelings don't block God's love:

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18)

I used to think that there was something wrong with me if I was feeling fearful. Now I understand that any sense of fear was then undercut with a sense of condemnation: "Oh, you are feeling fearful now, therefore, God is not going to bless you!"

But that's now what "perfect love" is! He loves me perfectly, completely, and it is not dependent on me at all.

In fact, God's perfect love came first. It's not about whether I was fearing first. That never comes into the equation:

"We love because He first loved us."(1 John 4:19)

God loves me and cares for me not because of anything that I have done or will do, but because of everything that Jesus has done!

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10)

The Angel of Death passed over the houses of the Israelites with blood on their doorposts, regardless of how the family members may have felt. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, not our belief in the blood.

Now, we do need to believe in His gift of salvation. We are saved by grace through faith. It's not a work that we have done, and it's not some universal salvation. A gift has to be received, after all!

At any rate, the stresses, the pressures, the upsets, uptight sentiments which were so prevalent in my body caused my blood presure to go up! It's incredible! This kind of thinking and feeling was so common in my day-to-day life, that I hardly noticed it.

After suffering a stroke, after giving up all the diet soda, and after giving up much of the fast-food, I did notice that my blood pressure was going down considerably. I got off the blood pressure medication at one time, and then my blood pressure shot up again. It was really strange how this kept happening.

Since then, I have begun to realize that there were a number of stressors that had been working within me automatically. I was constantly looking at myself, trying to catch myself so that I was not fearful, angry, or falling into bad thoughts and feelings.

Now that I recognize that His love is completely independent of my actions, i.e. I don't earn it, I can let feelings, thoughts, bad ideas come and go. They have no chokehold on me, they no longer serve as a hateful stronghold over me, because I know that the love of God has taken hold of me.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Jesus Loves Me: That's All that Matters

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)



God's love for us is inconditional. In fact, God loved us enough to send His Son for us even while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

God did not wait for us to get our act together, but sent Jesus so that He could reconcile us to Himself:

"To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:19)

Nothing can separate me from God's Love.

For the longest time, and even recently, I have realized still that I had placed conditions on God's love. If things were going well in my life, then I was assured that God was for me.

But if things were difficult, if I was going through trials, then I would waver. "Where is God in the midst of these hardships? Why am I going through all of this?"

God wants to break those doubts out of our lives. Also, He allows us to endure hardships to test and refine our faith (1 Peter 1:17).

God wants us to rest fully in Him, to labor, to make it a priority to enter His rest and receive from Him all things.

Consider what Joseph went through. God had given him two dreams, in which his brothers and even his parents would bow down to him. Yet he endured many trials before God finally accomplished all that He had dreamed, all that He had planned for Joseph.

So too God allows hardships to take place, so that we mature, we grow in grace, and receive more from Him:

"3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." (Romans 5:3-5)

and

"But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (James 1:4)

God's love is all that matters. Whatever you have thought or be thinking, whatever you have done or may done, nothing can separate you from the love of God:

"38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

Whatever good or bad comes your way, know that God's love for you is there, is real, and is going nowhere!

"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5)

His love is unconditional, independent of your circumstances and certainties. Jesus loves you--that's all that matters!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Jesus, Not a Means to an End, But the Beginning and the End

"Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken" (Luke 24:25)

Jesus spoke these words to Cleopas and his wife, both of whom were travelling back home to Emmaus.

Jesus came alongside them while they were talking, but His identity remained concealed from them at the time. He listened to them talk about Jesus, and how they believed that He would restore the greatness of Israel:

"21But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done." (Luke 24:21)

Israel was the most important thing on Cleopas' mind. For God, He is interested in far more than the political redemption of Israel.

Jesus then poured through the Scriptures and taught them everything concerning Himself.

Jesus did not come to be a means to an end. He is the beginning, the middle, and the end:

"Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

"Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:" (Isaiah 46: 9-10)

Everything is about Jesus. He is not a means to a different. He is everything that we want and need.

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)



and

"15[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." (Colossians 1:15-17)

Everything that exists was made by Jesus, and for Him. Everything that exists is held together by Him, as well.

Jesus is fully God, and fully man, and no one can dispute that. He is not a part of the story. He is the story. 

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8)

Jesus is not a means to an end. He is the Beginning and the End!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

God Tests Us, So that He May Surround Us With His Grace

"And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am." (Genesis 22:1)



First, it's important to get the proper meaning from this verse.

The word "tempt" is not accurate, at least as we understand that word today. God did not tempt Abraham, in that he was seducing him to commit a sin.

The better rendering is "test", or rather "prove", so that He could see that Abraham had attained a robust faith in God.

God later asked Abraham to offer up his son Isaac:

"And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." (Genesis 22:2)

Indeed, the LORD was asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Of course, what was really playing out here was the type and shadow of God offering His Son, His only Son, the Son whom He loved, for all the sins of the world.

Moreover, here we see Abraham's faith in God fully flourishing. The writer of Hebrews confirms this:

"17By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." (Hebrews 11:17-19)

Abraham trusted God so much, that he knew that God would bring His Son back from the dead. After all, God had promised earlier:

"3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Genesis 12:3)

and

"And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir." (Genesis 15:4)

God promised Abraham a son, and an heir, and that through this heir all the nations of the world would be blessed.

Now, what are these tests really all about?

Peter explains in his First Epistle:

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:" (1 Peter 1:7)

God wants us to believe in Him and thus receive all things from Him:

"31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:31-32)

Keep in mind, that we are called to grow in grace! (2 Peter 3:18), and our grace grows in our greater revelation of Christ Jesus (2 Peter 1:2). In fact, grace is something that we receive from God by faith:

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" (Ephesians 2:8)

God wants us to reign in life, and we reign in life as we receive--and keep receiving--the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17).

So, what is all this testing about? What does God test us, try us, and thus prove our faith?

He wants us to receive more of His grace, His favor in our lives!

The word "Test" in Genesis 22:1 is the Hebrew word נָסָה

"Nasah" in Hebrew.

Here are the three letters for that word, and the meaning of those letters:

נָ -- Nun, which speaks of the Son, Jesus
סָ -- Samech, which speaks of surrounding, or the sun (the light of the sun)
ה -- Heh, which speaks of God's grace

So, when God tests us, tests our faith, He is doing this so that His Son can surround you with his favor!

God wants us to live from faith to faith (Romans 1:17) for that is how the righteous live. He wants us to see more of Himself, and to receive more from Himself. When we face trials, hardships, and difficulties, we should never think that God does not love us or favor us. In fact, what God is doing is guiding us to see more of Himself, His love for us, so that He can extend more favor to us.



Monday, March 23, 2020

Second Chronicles 7:14 -- Is That The Prayer We Pray Today?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Is this the prayer that we should pray to heal our nation?


Many preachers, teachers, and elected officials have referenced the above verse in times of crisis.

The United States, the whole world is caught up in fears and worries about the Coronavirus.

I am not worried.

I have been reading, meditating, and receiving revelation from Psalm 91, especially this verse:

"Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence." (Psalm 91:3)

It's an assured promise. God informs us clearly: "Surely ...", not maybe, might be, could be, but "Surely" He delivers us from the traps and snares of the enemy, and he is delivering us from the catastrophic diseases which are wreaking emotional havoc on populations around the world.

Now, let's get back to the verse above from Second Chronicles.

God spoke to Solomon shortly after his public prayer and dedication of the Temple on Mount Zion. God gave this direction to the king under the Old Covenant.

Under the Old Covenant, man had to offer the blood of bulls and goats to atone for sin--but it never cleansed sin away for good. God could not hear from His people at the time unless they had offered the sacrifices, unless they had atoned for their sins.

Today, because of Jesus's Finished Work on the Cross, we do not have to ask God to forgive our sins in order for Him to hear from us.

In fact, today, we have forgiveness of sins NOW!

"In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7)

How can we ask for something which He has already given us?

We don't have to beg God to help us anymore, since He has freely given us His Son, and with Him we can freely receive all things (Romans 8:32).

In fact, because of all that Jesus has done for us on the Cross, we have entered into a New Covenant with God the Father:

"10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

"11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

"12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8:10-12)

Indeed, God has offered healing to our land, to every land, if we will just believe in Jesus.

He offered His body for us, for our healing!

"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53: 4-5)

The most important point to draw out, however, is that God has forgiven our sins. He imputed all our sins, and sin, to His Son!

"2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:" (Romans 8:2-3)

and

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Most clearly of all, so that there is no equivocation or confusion on the matter:



"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;" (Colossians 2:13)

We are not praying to God for Him to forgive our sins. We need to rejoice in that Jesus has accomplished a perfect work, and all our sins have been forgiven!

"But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;" (Hebrews 10:12)

Let's pray to God for healing, let's receive His Promises by faith!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Nothing Can Separate Me From God's Love, Not Even My Anger


"38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)





This development, this revelation has taken more time to seep in.

For years, for decades I was convinced that I had to be free of anger. I could not have bad or fearful or unpleasant feelings in me, so that God could flow freely through me. It was unbelievable, the amount of pressure, pain, tension which I had put myself through.

I really believed that my relationship with God depended on how I was feeling! This is the deepest perversion that comes out of Alcoholics Anonymous.

That awful program teaches people that they have to be free of anger. Nonsense! You can have those feelings, and it will not prevent you from knowing, feeling, and receiving God's love.

Granted, Paul does give this clear-cut counsel to the church:

"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27Neither give place to the devil." (Ephesians 4:26-27)

It's not sin to get angry. In fact, there is something wrong with you if you do not get angry at evil, injustice, wrongdoing in the world.

"Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;" (1 Corinthians 13:6)

and

"Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." (Romans 12:9)

You can't really love people if you are celebrating or accommodating evil. 

At any rate, this is such a new, profound reality for me.

For the longest time, I was constantly taking responsibility for my thoughts and feelings, as though I  had to stop them, suppress them, repress them, put them out of business, so to speak, so that they would not do me any wrong.

This is absolutely crazy, the mind games which I was dragged through.

But God is Love, that is who He is, and who He is not going to change, regardless of what I am thinking or feeling.

Nothing can separate me from the love of God. Not even myself, and certainly not what I am feeling, what I am thinking. Amen to this wonderful discovery. Thank you, Jesus!


Sunday, March 15, 2020

No Longer Paying Attention to the Worries and What Ifs



"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

For the longest time, I would pay attention to the worries, they weirdness, and the "what ifs?" of life.

There were constant premonitions in my flesh, and dreaded outcomes would flood into my imagination.

I kept thinking that I had to respond to every "what if?" and "what about?".

This was a big challenge for me when I was facing unjust persecution in courtrooms.

At first, I could not understand why God had allowed me to be found guilty, when all I had done was sit in a city council meeting.

Then it really occured to me how important it was for me to understand the gift of righteousness, that it is a gift, and that it does not matter what happens to me in this world. Evil people are going to do evil things, but they do not have the power to slow me down.

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

There is going to be rough-riding and rough-housing in the world. This world is a fallen place filled with fallen people.

But I am risen with Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:1), and we are above every circumstance and setback in this life.

It's OK if I don't understand what is going on all the time. It's OK if I get worried or upset. It's OK if I start asking "what if" and "what about".

However, it's not my job, it's not my problem to answer those questions.

God is Love. That is established. And just as I receive His gift of righteousness apart from works, so too He loves me apart from works, efforts, thoughts, or feelings on my part.