Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Not Your Cross -- His Cross

"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;" (Colossians 2:14)

Many people draw a lesson for the Christian life from Luke 14.

They believe that we must suffer as Christ Jesus did, that we must "Bear our Cross."

Here are the verses:

"25And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:25-27)

In this context, we find a large, "great" multitudes of people who were walking with Him. It's easy to say that you are on the "Jesus team" when there are lots of other people around you, and no one can really pick you out of the crowd.

Jesus was not pleased with this. These crowds saw Jesus as a status celebrity, a symbol. They were fans. They were followers. They did not see Him as Savior.

Jesus cut through this feigned adoration.

"If you really want to follow me", Jesus told them, "if you want to see Me as a pattern, then you need to do everything I did. You need to give up everything, put everything into despicable disrepute, and then take up the cross."

"Taking up the cross" means more than merely carrying it around. When someone was carrying a cross, it meant that at some point, that person was going to hang on the cross and die.

In an earlier chapter in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says to other would-be followers of Him, those who see Him as a pattern:

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23)

To those disciples, those who earnestly wanted to "Be Like Jesus," He exhorted them to take up their cross daily.

Imagine having to drag that rugged, wooden device of torture up a hill every day. Imagine having to be nailed to that perverse tool of execution every day! The very thought of dying on a Cross was torturous to anyone living in those times.

No, Jesus never intended for us to take up our own cross and suffer like Him. None of us can. We were sinners! We needed redemption. We needed righteousness. There is no way we could achieve it ourselves.

"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:" (1 Peter 3:18)

Notice that Jesus suffered for sins, all the sins of the world, not just yours and mine, and He suffered once. If we were to suffer for our own sins, we could never "not suffer", so to speak, because our blood, tainted with sin, could never repay the debt we owe to God for our sins.

So, Jesus was never interested, nor did He intend for us to take up a cross and suffer as He did.

Notice what Paul writes to the Colossians:

"[N]ailing it to his cross;"

His Cross, Not yours, not mine, but HIS!

He died on His cross for us!

Indeed, we will suffer for our faith in Christ, but whatever reproach, shame, indignties, or death the world can visit upon us, they are nothing compared to Christ's glory in us! (Colossians 1:27):

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18)

Brothers and sisters in Cross, stop trying to take up "your cross". That was never Jesus' intention. See Jesus as Your Savior, the one who died on His Cross, not only paying for all our sins, but granting us His righteousness, and in fact rendering inoperative the Law of Moses against us by fulfilling all of its requirements against us.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

God is Your Daddy--It's Important to Receive That

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15)

People in the world, and in the Body of Christ, are suffering.

They fall into temptations. They feel demands in their flesh for things that are destructive.

These lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eye, and the pride of life, all of this is a result of one thing:

We have not allowed the Love of the Father into us!

We need to know God as our Daddy!

"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15)

Abba! Daddy! That's what we are called receive!

We have received this Spirit of Adoption, full-grown sonship in Christ Jesus!

"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (Romans 8:17)

There are many Christians out there who do not see God as Father.

They Him as a distant taskmaster, or they seem Him as someone who felt obliged to send His Son for us, but that He has no real interest in our daily lives, concerns, struggles, pains, etc.

That is not true!

He loves us! He sees us in His own Son, and in fact has seated us in His own Son at His own right hand:

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:" (Ephesians 2:4-6)

If we struggle over anything, the answer is a greater, growing revelation of God the Father's love for us!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Life: A Journey of Discovering How Much God Loves You

What is Life about?

Jesus is our life, certainly, as Paul wrote to the Colossians (Colossians 3:4), and Jesus Himself declared to His disciples (John 14:6)

Then I found this statement on social media.

This statement says it all:
This was Paul's Number One Prayer for us:

"14For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Ephesians 3:14-19)

That is God's heartbeat for us, through Paul.

This life is indeed a journey of seeing, knowing, recognizing, believing more deeply in God's love for us!

Just when you think you have figured, you have really understood how much God loves you, there is so much, so much more for you to learn

We have not yet even scratched the surface of what Christ Jesus accomplished at the Cross. We have not even scratched the surface of what Christ Jesus Christ accomplished at the Cross for each of us!

We don't have the faintest idea how much God has been working behind the scenes to assist us, even when, especially when our troubles were of our own making.

We have no idea how much God's Holy Spirit has been wrapped up in and around us throughout our journey, before as well as after we believed on Jesus for our salvation!

There is so much that we need to learn.

No wonder that Peter wrote these final words in his last epistle:

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." (2 Peter 3:18)

Pastors Are NOT Called to Fix People, But to Preach Jesus--He Changes Us!

I understand the notion of receiving people who are hurt, who are in pain. I understand that there are Christians out there who see temptations in their flesh, and they feel ashamed about those feelings.

I also understand why there is concern about hitting on their feelings, and telling them that they need to get rid of their feelings.

It is good that churchces receive people who are hurting and do not rush to communicate a message of "You need to clean up! You need to get YOUR act together!"

Let us not believe, however, that God does not change us, or that these struggles should define us!

We are spirit! We are not flesh!

We are sons of light!

"Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness." (1Thessalonians 5:5)

People receive Jesus, and He transforms them. He transforms us!

"17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

Jesus accepts us as we are, and because we receive Him, we become as He is!

"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)

and of course:

"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:17)

My concern when it comes to homosexuality, when it comes to sexual perversion, is that there is still  this idea that homosexuality, that "gay" is a solid, real identity.

It simply is not.

The Body of Christ must not be afraid to speak the truth about this matter. God did not design our bodies for same-sex conduct. These behaviors harm, they kill, they rob us of the beauty and dignity which are loving Father wants us to have.

It is important to say "We are not trying to change you," but let us not shy away from declaring the truth, which is that "When Jesus' love takes hold of you, you won't want to hold onto, or engage, in homosexual conduct anymore."

These are not behavior for us! They are sins!

"9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Paul did not hold back in his first letter to the Corinthians.

He then swoomed in with the grace of God, to remind them what Jesus had done for them!

"11And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Paul never hesitates to say to the Corinthians. "Such behaviors belong to those who are unsaved. You ARE Saved! Why act like you are dead, when you have been brought to life?"

Pastors are not called to fix people. We are called to preach Jesus, we are called to invite, urge people to believe in Jesus, to be set free from sin, to be transformed from death to life, to be taken out of Adam and placed in Christ Jesus!

He changes us! He transforms us from glory to glory!


Sunday, July 28, 2019

God's Ever-Lavish Love, Still So New to Me

God loves me.

I heard that, read that, knew about that for the longest time.

Yet only in the last six months has this love become so resplendent, active clear to me.

Even as I was listening to Pastor Joseph Prince's sermons, even after I had read "Classic Christianity" by Pastor Bob George.

I knew that there was this love out there, but I was convinced that I had to live my life on my own.

Yes, Jesus saved me from death, hell, and the grave; but as for day-to-day life on this earth, I was on my own.

That is so sad, when I look back on that. I had no idea that He was determined, invested in saving me every day!

Jesus is my Savior.

He is my Lover.

He is my Husband!

God the Father is my Father!

He is there, everpresent loving me.

The mistake I made last year, when I was unjustly convicted in a court of law ... I kept thinking, I was still thinking that His love in my life was contigent on what was happening in and around me. Jesus had never not loved me. He had been loving me, caring for me for the longest time.

For one day, I feared the worst, that I had misjudged everything, that I was "off-track", that I was all alone in the world.

Yet even that harder day, October 25th, God was actually actively loving me. My Daddy was not gone. He was there with me in my pain. Even though I had been through such a criminal ordeal, I would later gone on to Austin, Texas, stay at a wonderful hotel, connect with wonderful pro-family activists, and make a difference in a conference in Killeen, Texas.

I meditated frequently on my righteous standing in Christ, that I had been made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21)

That revelation immediately began to settle my heart. It would take me a few more months before I learned, before I realized that God is using this difficult time to accomplish great things. Really, there is no greater honor than to suffer for righteousness' sake, right?

Did I really believe that? It's easy to say it when we do not suffer in the world's cruel system of things. I really do believe that, now. I have known and believed that God's love is real and unending for me!

"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:10)

In fact, I have been paid back far more for all that I have been through. It's been quite something. I see more of Him, I am able to receive more from Him. I now realize far more fully what His unconditional love really means!

I used to see Jesus' death on the Cross as something static. Yes, Jesus Loves Me.

I saw everything as a dry act. It was all in my head.

Now, today, His love is all over, from my heart to every tip of my body!

Well do I understand Paul's prayer today!

"14For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Ephesians 3:14-19)

God really loves me. His sending His Son to die for me, to live for me, to live through me, to cut a New Covenant, to bless me in every way -- such love!

Indeed, John wrote it so well:

"1Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 3:1-3)


God's Heavenly Hosts Are On Your Side

"And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim." (Genesis 32:1-2)

Jacob came across God's Heavenly Hosts early on, as he was fleeing from his corrupt uncle Laban, as he worried about what would happen to him when his brother Esau found him.

For a long time, I had often wondered what had caused Esau to receive Jacob in such a favored and favorable fashion.

First of all, Jacob was terrified beyond belief, and he was desperately trying to buy his brother's favor:

"3And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now: 5And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight." (Genesis 32: 3-5)

Yet consider once again that the angels of God met Jacob, and he recognized them as "God's host".

They were God's army!

So, what was it that turned Esau's heart?

"4And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept." (Genesis 33:4)

I believe indeed it was God's favor on Jacob, and Jacob acknowledged as much:

"11Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it." (Genesis 33:11)

I also submit that because Jacob was defended by God's host of angels, Esau recognized it was not a wise idea to confront and destroy his brother, his family, and his possessions.

Every day that we head out into the world, we need to recognize that God's heavenly hosts is on our side!

His host is greater than any host that the world can bring against us:

"Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident." (Psalm 27:3)


"A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee." (Psalm 91:7)

If anyone has wronged us, God not only hears us, but James recognizes that God - the Lord of Hosts! - has heard us and will avenge us!

"Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth." (James 5:4)

God is on your side, and He has His heavenly hosts with you!

Friday, July 26, 2019

How to Lose Weight? Through the Love of the Father

"I noticed that you are losing weight. What's your secret?"

Someone asked me this question today. I was really glad that this man came up to me and warmly praised my new physique.

For those who cannot see me now, I was tipping the scales at 255 lbs. at the beginning of 2017.

I had staved off eating fast food, and then my weight went down to about 225.

My weight was still fluctuating here and there.

Then during my physical earlier this year, my weight was 238 per the scale, with my clothes on. Weighing myself right after taking a share, I was at 232.

I really wanted to reduce my weight, since I wanted to avoid high blood pressure issues and a possible stroke.

However, I realized that I wanted whatever further weight loss to remain a constant. I was not interested in yoyo dieting.

I answered the man this morning: "JESUS!"

Indeed, His work granted me sonship before God the Father -- our father.

"1Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not."

This is great love, and yet I was struggling to receive this love all too often!

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15)

I had been meditating on the work of the Cross, and how that expanded God's love for me. I realized that there were perversions I had been struggling with because ... the love of the Father was not in me.

I realized that the same problems -- lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, pride of life -- are all a result of loving the world, not knowing, not receiving, not welcoming the Love of the Father!

Why was I eating so much? Why was I indulging in certain foods? That is one example of the "lusts of the flesh" (1 John 2:16)

I was not enjoying the rich, expansive, ever-growing love of the Father!

The more that I realized how alive, how real, how all-encompasing His love is for me, I realized that this richness was filling me up way better than food ever could!

That's what has made it easier for me to forgo eating as much as I used to.

Now, I honor hunger, I honor satiety. My life does not revolve around the next meal, nor do I eat food to feel better.


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Jesus, Grace Personified is Better--Sin Just Plain Sucks

I must say, I have a really hard time understanding how anyone can claim that they are under grace, and yet they engage in all kinds of sin, all kinds of perversion.

Anyone who has tasted, who has seen that the LORD is Good (Psalm 34:8) knows that sin ... sucks!

"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." (Psalm 16:11)

Yes, that verse above is in the Bible.

God is not against us having fun, having life.

Remember, Jesus was--IS--the life of the party!

"7Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now." (John 2:7-10)

Jeuss literally saved the party. He turned water into wine. Not exactly healing, but a miracle, the First Miracle He performed!

God is all about us having fun.

Really, He is!

So, when people have this weird idea that grace is a license to sin, I have to ask:


I think of that scene toward the end of the movie "Return to Oz", from the early 1980s.

Before Dorothy Gale goes back to Kansas, she says good-bye to her pet hen, Belina. She asks the hen if she is going to come home with her.

Belina is just shocked, and shoots back:

"What, and go back to that hum-drum world again?"

Once she had seen the Emerald City, beautiful in its dazzling wealth and fresh wonder, why would she want to go back to dry, flat, boring Kansas?

I feel the same way when people talk about sin, in contrast to the love, joy, and pleasure of the Son.

What? Why would I want to go back to that garbage? Why would I want to settle for less?!


How quickly we forget, and how correctly Paul would write:

"4Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" (Romans 2:4)

Riches, goodness, longsuffering.


As for sin:

"The wages of sin is death," (Romans 6:23)


Also, let's not forget Paul's exhortation to pastor-in-training Titus:

"11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;" (2 Titus 2:11-13)

Grace teaches us to say "No!" to sin.

Of course it does! Grace is better! Why settle for death, hell, and the grave?

Thanks, but no thanks.

Last of all, John could not have written better in his First Epistle:

"15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15)

Notice that John writes "Don't love the world." He points out the reason why people love the world: "The love of the Father is not in them."

It's about more than knowing that God the Father loves you. Is His love in you? Have you let His love in, or do you still keep it out, convinced that there are things that you have thought or done, that you are thinking or feeling, that would make Him unhappy?

Do you believe that the Father loves you? Do you see His love as intimate, close, never to leave you? Do you see Daddy God embracing you, even at your worst, your lowest, your basest, just as in Jesus' parable? (cf Luke 15:20).

Now, why does John reproach "love of the world"?

"16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." (1 John 2:16)

The three different types of human-centered--strained attempts at pleasure: giving into temptations, trying to please our eyes, our senses; making ourselves big in the eyes of the world, big reputation  etc--is not from the Father, not from our loving Daddy.


"17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." (1 John 2:17)

The biggest problem with whatever the world has to offer? John does not mention the Ten Commandments. He does not mention God the Father's displeasure with sin.

The reason why the world and whatever it has to offer is not good enough? It passes away. It's NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

We are made for eternal things. Remember back to Psalm 16:11, in which there are "eternal pleasures
" at Jesus' right hand!

I want what lasts, not what is temporal.

Jesus, Grace personified is better. ALWAYS!

As for sin. Really?

Sin just plain sucks. BORING!

I want life, and that more abundantly--and that is PRECISELY what Jesus came to give us! (John 10:10)

Sin cannot compare: Jesus, Grace Personified is Better!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Now I'm a REAL BOY!

I wrote in another blog post how frustrated I was as a kid.

I was so busy trying to be the good boy, the one who played by all the rules, who looked up to and measured up to all the standards of the teachers, what was expected of me, what was placed on me.

If I was a good boy, I was good. If I failed, I was a bad boy, etc.

This idea of being unconditionally loved, cared for, graced first, and then responding to that love -- I had never known that.

Such thinking, such beauty, such GOSPEL, was completely unknown to me.

For all the years that I had been going to church, reading my Bible, listening to sermons, following the rules blah, blah, blah -- I never knew how much He loves me.

I do not write "He loved me", because His love for me is eternal, never-ending, and very present, too.

I was so busy trying to be good, and yet failing at it, or just plain having no fun.

The frustration I felt, too, when I saw kids who did not play by the rules get all the wins. "That's not fair!" I used to think.

Grace is not fair, and we are called from the beginning to grow in grace!

God is not looking for me to be a "good boy" in my own efforts.

I can't even become that!

"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:" (Romans 3:10)

It is written. None of us our righteous, good.

Sin cannot be overcome by our efforts. It requires grace!


"Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John 1:17)

Jesus did not come to make bad men good, but to make dead men live.

Or, Jesus did not come to make bad boys good, but to make dead boys real!

Just like Pinocchio in that fairytale!

As long as he tried in his own efforts to become real, he failed.

When he rested and just believed, he became real!

Don't believe me?

"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)


Life is better than playing by "rules." Ten Commandments tell you want not to do -- and they actually awaken sin! (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)

I kept thinking that life was some kind of exam. I needed to put myself in the right place, at the right time to make things work.


Jesus -- He is my life! (John 14:6; Colossians 3:4)

Life is what He has invited me to receive!

Today, I don't try to be a good boy. I know that I am loved, adopted by my loving Father!

I have His spirit, the spirit of adoption. He is my ABBA!

And I am His SON!

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not." (1 John 3:1)

That makes me alive, real!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Confessing Our Sins Is Not Enough -- So What Else Is Needed?

TrueLove.Is is an incredible, new ministry for me.

It was really good to see young people, who on the outside at the very least are down to earth, not crazy, flamboyant, or just plain weird--and they struggled with same-sex issues.

I noticed a theme in two of the stories.

First, there's Jason Yolt:

He talked about the joy he had when he shared about his same-sex struggles with his small group of fellow-believers. However, he then admitted that he would still indulge in his same-sex desires. He would still fool around.

Confession of his sins, his struggles, did not set him free.

Then there was Raphael. His story is quite poignant, too.

He talked about the struggle with same-sex desires as early as 13 years old. My, such pain that he had to face as a youth, and the sense of emptiness which must have overwhelmed him, and for so long!

He later found a mentor, or it seemed that this mentor found him. Raphael later shares how this man helped him to understand the struggles of his father, how he was doing the best that he could. Raphael also commended his mentor for showing him a father's love, something that he did not receive from his own father.

Yet like Jason, Raphael continued to struggle with loneliness, the lack of love in his life, the hurt and pain. He still went after same-sex relationships, one-night stands, and chance sexual encounters.

Once again, confessing one's sins, sharing one's hurts, is just not enough. It does not set us free.

Let me clarify: sharing one's sins, hurts, and pains with others is a start, in that we stop feeling ashamed. But it does not solve the problem, resolve, the issue, dissolve the pain.

So, what does?

The Love of the Father!

"15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." (1 John 2:15-17)

No offense to Raphael's friend and mentor Jason, but his love could never rise up to, let alone equal, God the Father's love!

It just can't. It's not the same love. It never can be enough.

What changed for these two that delivered them?

I notice first of all that they came to God directly. Nothing held them back. They admitted to their loving Father, they came boldly to the throne of grace in time of need (Hebrews 4:16)

Second, they began to experience a greater love, the love of the Father, and we can experience that when we just come to Him, just like the prodigal son!

"20And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." (Luke 15:20)

Just one little move toward your loving Father, and He will rush towards you with His love!

It's not enough to confess that we have bad feelings, bad thoughts, bad desires, and bad actions.

It's not enough to get rid of the bad. We need something better. 

Why else do so many of us, do ALL of us, choose to run after lusts of the flesh, the eye, and the pride of life? We don't have, we don't know, we have not allowed in THE BEST!

And that is the Love of the Father. Not the Love for the Father, i.e. our love for Him, but His love for us!

This is an enriching, never-ending love!

Confessing our sins is not enough. Why are we sinning? Why are we resorting to these empty lusts which cannot satisfy us? We should not get down on ourselves to confess our sins. We need to deal with that deeper need within ourselves.

We need to let the love of the Father in!

That's what is most needed! And that's what both of these men did!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Because of God's Love for You, The Worst of Times Will Surely Turn to Your Benefit

"Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back." (Isaiah 38:17)

At first, when I read this passage, I thought that King Hezekiah was saying "My peace was taken away, and I was given great bitterness instead."

That's not how to read the passage, however.

The New International Version expounds what Hezekiah prayed more accurately:

"Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back."

Hezekiah's pain resulted from a terrible illness, one in which the prophet Isaiah told him would result in his death:

"1In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live." (Isaiah 38:1)

Hezekiah was a man of great faith, and he was not afraid to ask God for mercy:

"2Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, 3And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore." (Isaiah 38:2-3)

Bear in mind that we walk before God in a perfect heart when we believe on HIM!

Just like blessed, believing Abraham! (Genesis 15:6; Galatians 3:9)

God not only restored Hezekiah to health, He promised the great king fifteen more years of life, and He removed the fierce Assyrians from attacking Judah!

What a victory! What a reversal of grace for this king.

Then followed Hezekiah's wonderful Song of Thanksgiving, and one key verse stands out:

"Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back." (Isaiah 38:17)

"Great bitterness" in the original Hebrew is "mara mara" -- superlative bitterness, the worst, hardest time imaginable.

Indeed, Hezekiah went through untold troubles: healthwise, emotionally, and even politically, since the kingdom of Judah was under seige from the King of Assyria! And all at the same time!

Yet Hezekiah would then say "Surely it was for my benefit". In fact, that word "peace" is "Shalom", which speaks to consummate wholeness in every manner: physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, politically (for the king's sake), etc.

And the manner in which God saved Hezekiah--and saves us!

"In love to my soul" - this is "Chazaq" love, which communicates that God is so attached, so longing for us!

No matter how bad it gets, no matter how great the trials, just turn your face toward your loving Father. He will hear you, and He will cause the worst of trials to turn to your benefit!

Friday, July 12, 2019

He Set His Love On Us First

"Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name." (Psalm 91:14)

Many people read this passage, and they come into bondage, because they sense that they need to love God more, love Him better in order to be delivered, in order to enjoy His protection.

However, before we set our love on Him, He has already set His love on US!

In the Original Hebrews, the phrase "set his love" is "chasaq", which also means "be attached".

It also means "to desire" as well as "to long for".

God desires us! He longs for us!

The first mention of this word takes place when Shechem declares to Jacob that he is attached to his one daughter Dinah, whom he had raped:

"8And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife." (Genesis 34:8)

His soul longed for Dinah.

But God longs for us, too!

The LORD declares His love for His people Israel:

"The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people" (Deuteronomy 7:7)

Check out where else God sets His love!

"Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day." (Deuteronomy 10:15)

He set His love on His people first!

Now consider the final mention of "chasaq" in the Old Testament:

"Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back." (Isaiah 38: 17)

In this passage, Hezekiah the king of Judah, one of the greatest kings in the history of that kingdom, was afflicted with a terrible disease. The prophet Isaiah had even told him to prepare for death. Hezekiah pleaded with God, to remember his righteousness before him, and God told the king through Isaiah that he would indeed live.

In response, Hezekiah prayed with thanksgiving, including how God delivered him from death. Why? Because He had set His love on Hezekiah!

And notice what God's love did for Hezekiah: "You have cast all my sins behind Your back."

The greatest love was shown to us at the Cross!

"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)

That's what love is! It's God giving us His Son!

"9In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10Herein 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 4:9-10)

Behold what love our Father has for us! (1 John 3:1)

And from this love, springs our love for God!

"We love him, because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

There you have it. We set our love on Him --- because He has so richly set His love on us first!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Jesus is "Sprung" for You!

"I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me." (Songs 7:10)

This is a new revelation for me.

Jesus loves me.

He is in love with me.

He is actively pursuing me because He is so in love with me!

Let's check out the first "marriage", the union of Adam and Eve:

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:24)

That word "cleave" conveys a number of meanings.

1. Cling
2. Keep Close
3. Overtake

The same word "Dabaq" in Hebrew, is used in this passage:

"Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:" (Genesis 19:19)

The idea communicates "Overtakes, catches up with, pursues".

The man is expected not just to cling, but to pursue his wife, his woman.

Other uses of "dabaq" also include:

"And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel." (Genesis 34:3)

Shechem the Hivite raped Dinah first, and then became so attached, so attraced to her and spoke kindly afterwards.

A good man, a godly man will never force himself on a woman, but will seek to attach himself to her.

It can also mean "keep" as in "maintain":

"So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers." (Numbers 36:7)

It can also mean "abide":

"Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens:" (Ruth 2:8)

And "pursue":

"And they turned and fled toward the wilderness unto the rock of Rimmon: and they gleaned of them in the highways five thousand men; and pursued hard after them unto Gidom, and slew two thousand men of them." (Judges 20:45)

Now, what do we draw out of this one word and the verse in Genesis Chapter 2? This is about man and wife, right?

Well, we are married to Christ! Christ is our man, He is our Husband!

"For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called." (Isaiah 54:5)


"For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:2)

Jesus is married to us, and thus:

1. He clings to us!
2. He pursues us!
3. He desires to abide with us!

Among young people, they will say that one person is "sprung" for someone else. What does that mean?

"Utterly infatuated with someone; completely taken over by romantic interest."

That's Jesus! He is your husband, your lover. He wants you. He wants to be with you. To abide with you. To pursue you.

Let Him have all of you today, for His desire is towards ... YOU! Let His Love overtake you today!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Door is Shut, No Man Can Open It -- Your Salvation is Secured Forever

"And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in." (Genesis 7:16)

Just as Noah and his family, along with all the types of animals, entered the Ark to be spared from God's wrath has He rained on the earth, it is crucial to note that it was the LORD who shut the door of the Ark.

It was not Noah's job to close the door.

In a sense, the LORD was the last one in, in that He puts the safety and security of His beloved first!

Now, many preachers rightly point out that this door is a type of Christ Jesus.

He Himself declared that He is the Door (John 10:9-10).

Many preachers rightly declare also that because God is the one who closed the door of the Ark, the LORD assured complete, utter, unchanging safety and security for Noah and his family.

This shutting of the door is a type to depict that once we believe in Jesus, once we declare Him our Lord and Savior, we are saved once, for all, forever!

Yet there are some who take expection to this. They believe that people can lose their salvation.

There are a number of clear responses to this error.

But let's focus on the type and shadow found in the shutting of the door.

Look at Revelation, and see how Jesus describes Himself to the church at Philadelphia in the Book of Revelation:

"These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;" (Revelation 3: 7)

Notice that Jesus closes doors that no man can open.

God the Father and Jesus are one (John 10:30). Because of this revelation, and within Revelation, we can rest assured that the same Loving God who shut the door to safeguard Noah and his family is the same God who spoke to the Church of Philadelphia.

When God shuts doors, no one can open them. When He opens doors, no one can shut them. That is His power.

Our Salvation is fully appreciated in the same fashion. When He takes us from death to life, it is eternal life (John 3:16). Nothing can separate us from His love.

The door that shuts us into Jesus, our heavenly, never-ending Ark, can never be opened again!

The door is shut, no man can open it: your salavation is secured forever in Christ Jesus!