The Love of God

Ephesians 3: 18-19 says, “may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

The word ‘grasp’ means “to rust or eat all the way through.” Today I want you to truly grasp…to let this truth eat all the way through to your inner being. You are loved by God!
The word ‘loved – agape’ means “tethered love.” It means “attached or chained.” It means “affection.” It speaks of “feeling but more like action. God’s love has action.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

I John 4:8 says, “God is love.”

Solomon, the wisest person to ever live outside of Jesus said in Proverbs 19:22, “what a person desires is unfailing love.”

We all fear rejection; we all desire to be loved. We yearn to hear the words, “I love you.” Ephesians 5:2 shares some powerful words when it says, “Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” (the Message)

Maybe today you have been through or are going through something that causes you to think that God doesn’t love you. Maybe a divorce or a deep seeded rejection. Maybe you have been abandoned. Maybe you are lonely and depressed and the holidays just make it worse. Romans 8:32 tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

If you find yourself today doubting God’s love for you, remember that God became a human being to be able to identify with you.

It’s called CHRISTMAS. Remember that He was crucified for you.

It’s called salvation. Remember He rose from the dead for you.

It’s called Victory. And remember, He’s coming back again for you.

It’s called Promise!

I’ve been saying this for years but let me remind you…Jesus Christ is crazy in love with you! Celebrate that FACT today…it’s called Grateful!

Desert Days

     One of the greatest difficulties in life is being in a situation that is bigger than you and facing obstacles and circumstances that are overwhelming. When we face a difficult problem, fear and anxiety creep in and have a paralyzing effect on us.

     Have you ever been stopped in your tracks and stunned by a situation that totally rocked your world? Maybe your spouse said, “I’m done” or maybe bankruptcy is on the horizon staring you in the face. Maybe your health is declining or you are facing a serious physical condition. The truth is, life isn’t fair many times. We all face pain, struggles, frustration and disappointment. I know I have in my life…I know the desert very well. I know what it is like to be in that hot, dry, miserable, lonely place called the desert.

     If you read the Bible it is full of people who were desert dwellers. Moses, Joshua, the children of Israel, David and Jesus (just to name a few)! Jesus was in the desert forty days being tempted by the devil. So if you find yourself in the desert slugging it out with the devil, then you are in good company.

     A great deal of temptation comes when you are in the desert so be cautious. You think unthinkable thoughts when you are in the desert…”I am done; I want out of my marriage; I am just going to run and escape from all of this.” At that point, drugs, alcohol, pills, etc… become your companion in the desert.

     The desert can become a maternity ward for maturity, growth and a supernatural encounter with God or a maternity ward for addictions, pornography and low life living.

Don’t run to short term solutions to solve your long term problems. You may be a desert dweller today but hang on…your time in the desert will come to an end. It did for Moses, it did for Jesus and it will for you! So hang in there my friend, your desert days are numbered!

Taking It To The Next Level

Jesus was a great teacher. He was a marvelous example for everyone to follow.

He was a Healer for the physical, the emotional and the mental.

Jesus was a prophet. He proclaimed the Word of God and foretold what would happen in the future. 

Jesus was a person characterized by great love. He had compassion on all people and He loved hanging out with the “worst of the worst.” 

Jesus was a tremendous religious leader. He recruited, trained and sent out a group of men who impacted the world in which we live.

Jesus’ sinless, obedient life demonstrated His love and commitment to all mankind. Jesus willingly laid down His life so that we can have a relationship with God the Father. Don’t ever think that Jesus died to establish a religious system or code of ethics. Jesus died so that you and I can know God!

So, with all that He has done for you, why don’t you join me in:

1. Asking God to “set you on fire”
Ask God to consume you; to help you let go of your sin and junk, and your hurt and pain and run into His arms with complete abandonment. Let God ignite you with passion once again!

2. Asking God to give you a burden for people
Beg God to give you His heart, His eyes, and His ears for people…lost people who don’t know Him and the Body of Christ who are limping around when they should be sprinting. We have  become blind to the needs of others. Ask God to let you see the world like He does.

3. Asking God for the impossible
Have you prayed any BOLD prayers lately? The early church saw the miraculous because they asked God for the impossible. Our prayers are too small and to safe. Let’s ask, let’s seek and knock on heavens door with audacious bold prayers.

In acknowledging all that Christ has done for us, let’s love Him and follow Him…let’s move up from here!

Seeking His Face Part 2

Today we will pick up on where we left off yesterday as I discussed, Intimacy With God.  I want to share with you the process that I use. It is not a formula or a ritualistic act that I follow. It is a delight and a joy because spending time with God is the most important thing that we can do as Christians…it is vital to us.

I love to read so I begin by reading the Word of God first. I read a chapter each day in the book of Proverbs. I have been reading the Proverbs for over 20 years; they are full of wisdom and direction. Then I read another chapter from a book in either the Old or New Testament. I ask God to speak to me about two or three things out of those scriptures… is there a promise to claim; is there a sin I am being warned to avoid; is there a command to obey? I meditate on God’s word and most of the time, I read everything twice, I read slowly and I read it out loud.  I do this because I really want to get God’s word into me.

Next, I enter my prayer time. I begin with what I call, “Confess Up.” I quote I John 1:9, I John 1:7, and Romans 8:1. I confess my sin to God, agree with Him about my sin and name anything in my life that has grieved God or caused Him hurt. I don’t want anything to hinder my relationship with God.  Psalm 66:18 is a strong reminder “not to regard iniquity in my heart.”

After this time of confession, I get “Filled Up” with the Spirit of God. Ephesians 5:18b tells us to “be filled with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16 tells us to, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” The Spirit of God is not an it and not an energy force, He is a person and that person is power. I have already confessed anything in my life that would grieve or hinder the Spirit of God, so now I am asking to be filled afresh and anew that I might walk with Him in power as I face life, and that I will bear the fruits of the Spirit as shared in Galatians, Chapter 5 and verses 22 and 23.

Next, I get “Dressed Up” as we read about the spiritual battle and the armor of God we are to wear in Ephesians 6, verses 10-18. I get dressed in every piece of the armor – I pray each piece over me in place to protect me as I prepare to fight the battle of that day. As soldiers gear up for their physical battles, we as Christians must be armed and ready for the spiritual battles that will come each day. Be ready!

I then move into a time of “Intercession” where I intercede (pray on behalf of other people). I pray for my wife, each of my six children, my daughter-in-law and my unborn grandson. I pray for other family members, friends and other needs that I am aware of.

From there, I have a time of “Worship” where I just praise God and tell Him how awesome and wonderful He is. Take time to adore Him and bless Him. He is worthy, let’s make time to tell Him so!

I end with a time of “Thanksgiving” where I focus on just giving Him thanks. Reflect on all of His blessings, His love, provision and protection. We are so guilty of asking for everything in the world and neglecting to share our thanks with God. I thank Him for everything I can think of, including the time that He allowed me to have with Him and the intimacy that I was privileged to share.

I want to encourage you to make your quiet time, your devotional life the priority in your life.  It is not only the most important thing that you do, but it is vital for your spiritual growth and health as a Christian. I challenge you to be intimate with God. It will change your life!

 

Seeking His Face

Today I want to share with you about intimacy with God. Psalms 42: 1-2 says, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?.” I love this passage. David is saying that he is thirsting for God, hungering for God. I hope that it is your heart and your desire to want to be in the presence of God; to have a devotional life – to read the Bible and pray; to be intimate with Him.

There are three ways to enter into God’s presence:

1) Prayer

2) The Word of God

3) Worship.

Prayer is simply talking to God, the Word of God is God talking to you as you read the Bible. Worship is the act of adoring and blessing God. It’s not just singing, it does involve music whether you sing a hymn, a chorus, listen to a CD or music praising Him. I encourage you to choose the one out of these three that gets you the most emotionally involved and excites you. There is not a right or wrong answer to this. Some people just enjoy praying; others get lost reading the Bible and others just love to sing or listen to music praising God. Which one do you enjoy the most? I always begin by reading the Word of God because I love to read, then I move into praying and then I move into worship. You just need to choose the one that gets you emotionally involved first because you want your quiet time to be a delight, not drudgery, duty or discipline. We are talking about being intimate with the God of the universe – the one who died for you. You want to be emotionally engaged in this time with Jesus Christ. So begin with the one that you enjoy most, then on to the second and then the third one.
I want to encourage you if you are a seasoned Christian, and you are already enjoying great quality time with Jesus to add a few minutes to your devotional time. Be more intentional throughout your day.  If you are just beginning this journey and launching into spending time with Jesus, I want to help you by telling you to begin with five minutes a day. Let me give you a few little hints to start this process.

First of all, I encourage you to have a time of preparation. Practically, that means you need to be physically and mentally alert. Some of you are morning people but others are “night owls.” I prefer morning, I am alert, fresh, and my mind is ready so I always have my quiet time first thing in the morning. My wife Vickie is the opposite, she prefers night time. She stays up until 1 or 2 am and feels that she is at her ‘best’ at night so for her to have her quiet time in the morning would not work well. Determine what time is best for you and make sure that you are physically and mentally alert.

Next I advise you to select a time and a location and keep that consistent. For instance, if it is at 6 am in the morning, then try to keep it around 6 am daily. If it is in the afternoon, keep it in the afternoon. Keep that specific time and then focus on finding a specific location. I have a chair that I have had for many years that is in the sitting area of my bedroom. I use that chair every single day. I read, pray and worship in that chair every day. Even as I write this, I think of that chair and I know how it feels and even what it smells like as I kneel  there so often.

Intimacy with Jesus…thirsting for God. The number one priority of the Christian life is spending time with Jesus Christ.  It is vital for a healthy, growing relationship.
Tomorrow I will share my detailed process with you.

 

Grateful

I am reading II Timothy devotionally right now. I read chapter 3, verse 1 this morning and it spoke of how in the last days, people will become more unthankful.

 

Two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul predicted a global problem of ungratefulness; being selfish and being lovers of ourselves. Most people are only thinking about being grateful once a year on Thanksgiving. We really do have so much to be thankful for every day!

 

Have you noticed when you concentrate on what you don’t have, what you DO have is never enough. When you live to consume or live for yourself, you are never happy or satisfied. Selfish people really don’t win in the long run. We must give of ourselves and extend beyond our personal interests. We must be givers, not takers; contributors, not consumers. It’s found in the Bible and it’s one of those laws of the universe where sharing, caring and giving trumps self centered narcissism and selfishness everytime.

 

Be that person who invests in others, not the one who always looks out for “number one.” We must live with an attitude of gratitude. It is impossible to be negative while we are giving thanks. Seeds of discontentment don’t grow in a grateful heart. Gratitude is not a feeling, it’s a muscle and it needs a workout everyday.

 

I hope you and your family have a blessed holiday!

All Because of Jesus

I Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 26-31 says, “Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.” (the Message)

I love this passage. If you have ever had any doubts whether or not God could use you, this scripture clears that up!

God doesn’t look for the experts or the specialists. He doesn’t have an entry exam. You don’t have to pass any test. There is no IQ requirement or social status needed.

God loves to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things. You don’t have to be a champion thoroughbred to run in His race. He loves to use plain donkeys (another word comes to mind). Your collar doesn’t have to be white; God uses blue collared, normal people with dirty hands to do abnormal things for His glory.

When Jesus chose the twelve disciples, some were fishermen, others were tax collectors, some were husbands and fathers while others were single men. They weren’t smarter or more gifted than anyone else. They simply obeyed when Jesus said, “Follow me.” That is exactly what God is looking for. People with hearts that beat for him. People who will simply follow Him and seek Him.

Maybe you’re more blue jeans than blue blood. Maybe you are more ADD than MBA. Maybe you are more of the high school dropout than beauty contest winner. I don’t know who or what you are or what you have done or haven’t done. I don’t know if you have grown up in church your entire life or just started attending last week.

I do know this. God loves to change the world with people like you. You may ask, “why”? It is so that no one can take the credit but God! So people can look at your life and know that there is only one explanation for you and how God is using you and that explanation is Jesus…simply Jesus. All glory and honor to the only one who is worthy – JESUS!