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Sermon of the Week 
Tuesday, May 24 2016

When the Spirit Cries Out ”Once More”

    We begin today in the 16th chapter of Judges and I want to read the 28th verse. “And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only once more, O Lord”.

    Many people might say, “My life is nothing like I thought it was going to be in Christ. I had such aspirations; I believed that all things were possible in Christ. I truly wanted to glorify God in the earth. But now when I look in the Bible and then look at my life, it seems as if I fall so far short of what I am supposed to be.”

    A pastor’s son asked his dad why it was that as soon as he went up onto the platform, he bowed his head and closed his eyes real tight. He said “Why do you do that Dad?" His dad told him, "I'm asking the Lord to help me give a good sermon." The little boy said, "Why doesn't He ever do it, Dad?"                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

    You see, there is a weak place in each of our hearts, just as there was in the hearts of those in Samson’s day. It is the place where we can’t believe beyond what we can see with our natural eyes that in turn opens the door to discouragement and disillusionment.

    So how do we get beyond this limited place, when our spirit is crying out for so much more? Is it through more Bible study or attending church more frequently? Our natural tendency is to conclude that if we just read more, study more, pray more, and do more, somehow our lives would be an ambassadorship of glory to the Name of God—only to realize later that all we have done is studied more, read more, prayed more and done more….but our effort alone, will not necessarily bring the glory of God, or we would have it all the time.

   Before a minister took a position in a new church, he had all of his remaining teeth pulled and new dentures put in. The first Sunday, he only preached 10 minutes. The second Sunday, he preached only 20 minutes. But, on the third Sunday, he preached 1 hour 25 minutes.

    Following the third Sunday, he was asked by some of the folks in the  congregation, why the difference in the length of his sermon on the three Sundays. Well, he said….The first Sunday, my gums were so sore it hurt to talk. The second Sunday, my dentures were hurting a lot. The third Sunday, I accidentally grabbed my wife's dentures... and I couldn't stop talking! More effort, without a listening Spirit, and a surrendered heart, will still fall short….It is only God who can and will get us beyond the places of limitation, as our heart cries out for that which can only come from Him.

    Haggai 2:6–7 “For thus says the Lord of hosts; Yet once more, I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts” If you seek me with all your heart you shall find me!!!! From my experience, it should probably more correctly say, If you seek me, I WILL FIND YOU, says the Lord!!!!

    In other words, the time has come that “Once More” I will fill you with My glory,” says the Lord. The word glory in the Hebrew text means weight, honor, esteem, glory, majesty, abundance and wealth. The Lord will fill us with what we could never have achieved on our own. It does not come from human effort but rather from simply believing and surrendering to God.

    Our God possesses all the resources of this earth, and He will endow us with all that we need to usher in, restore and fill this last temple period dispensation with His glory, if we lay aside the things that take first place and give Him first place. We truly will find more than we expect, when our expectation is accompanied with surrender and a whole hearted commitment to see God get all the glory, all the honor, and all the praise which He rightly deserves.

    The “Once More” inside of Samson, could not be silenced by the entire Philistine nation, which had gathered to celebrate his final defeat…..They could not silence the force of his heart’s cry as he shouted out from the depths of his spirit….. once more, O Lord!!!!!

    When people with limited ability, connect with a greater vision, a greater cause and a greater power, they can accomplish incredible feats. You and I can do amazing things in spite of any limitation we may experience, if we will dare to never cease to cry out….for a    “ONCE MORE” visitation!

    In the frigid waters around Greenland are countless icebergs, some little and some gigantic, reaching down far below the surface. If you’d observe them carefully, you’d notice that sometimes the small ice floes move in one direction while their massive counterparts flow in another. The explanation is simple. Surface winds drive the little ones, whereas the huge masses of ice are carried along by deep ocean currents. When we see circumstances and situations in our lives moving one way, while we are going in another, it’s helpful to see our lives as being subject to two forces—surface winds and deep ocean currents. The winds represent everything changeable, unpredictable, and distressing. But operating simultaneously with these gusts and gales is another force that’s even more powerful. It is the sure movement of God’s wise and sovereign purposes, the deep flow of His unchanging desire for His blessing in our lives.

    George Elliot…"It's never too late to be what you might have been." --                                                                                                                                                             

    Inventor Thomas Edison….."Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."                                                                                            

    When Dr. Seuss wrote his first children's book, it was rejected by 27 publishers. By the time of death in 1991, his books had sold more than 200 million copies in 15 languages. Since his death another 22 million of his books have been sold. What if he had quit after his 26th rejection from a publisher? But he tried once more…

    When Gideon cried out “Where is the lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob….it was in a time when the Philistines had overrun their fields, and their possessions, and they were having to sneak around by night, just to reap some of their own crops, and avoid the enemy at their door, while at the same time, knowing the glowing stories of God’s miraculous intervention over their enemies in the past…and Gideon was putting a demand on God’s integrity and faithfulness by saying, “Once More Lord”…..It was a covenant man calling upon a covenant God!!!! And his cry ascended to the God who hears, the God who Sees… the God who Knows…and the God who Remembers, and the God who is greater than all the forces that oppose us!

    Samson wanted God’s power, but he also wanted what the world had to offer… His problem was that while he hated the Philistines, he loved those Philistine women….Amazingly, God still continued to use Him, because of those who cried out to Him day and night and in spite of all his faltering and terrible choices, he stayed on mission… But there came a point when the ramifications of his disobedience caught up with him, and the harvest of his sin came home to roost! The truth about truth, is that it is embedded with righteous justice.        

    With his eyes poked out, chains on his hands and feet, and stripped in shame before his captors, Samson remembered other times and what it felt like to experience God’s power! A cry came forth from the deepest depth of his being, “Let me feel Your power once more, Lord”!!!!

    Folks can try to push it away, numb it down and shut it up….but it will not be silent! We can deny it and make other things our priority, but it will continue to call out…..”ONCE MORE, LORD, ONCE MORE”

    During the kids' Christmas presentation, everyone was going perfect as they were doing the manger scene, when someone noticed that something was missing on the set. As everyone was looking around, a bag was found behind the curtain which held this important part. The missing piece, that made the scene complete, was the baby Jesus.. The baby was quickly placed in the manger, so the presentation could then continue. When Jesus is in His rightful place, it completes whatever we’re doing or attempting to do….When Jesus is in His rightful place doors open that could not be opened, there is a way where there was no way!

     We have entered the feel good era of Christianity….Preaching has been replaced by feel good illustrations. Holiness has given way to happy hour. Commitment has been replaced by fun and entertainment. We get more excited about a shopping trip than we do about revival meetings. We wink at sin and cringe at the values and requirements of a Holy God.. We’ve become so user friendly that we have no distinction from the local social club.

    We have lost our fire, our power and our desire and passion for God. We would rather play than pray. We would rather have our ears tickled than our hearts set on fire by the Word of God. We would rather be stroked and soothed than challenged. We would rather stay like we are than become more like He is.                                                                                                                                                   

Jesus is not where He belongs and has every right to be! The baby is in a bag behind a curtain, and somebody needs to search until He is found!

    Thank God, there is still hope for all the modern day Samsons and Gideons…. And that hope springs from passionate men and women of God who are crying out for an open heaven, day and night they’re calling….once more, Lord, once more!!!

I discovered in preparing this message, that one of the names of God which He gave to Moses is “Jehovah Yaw Saf”….which is “The God of more”. He was telling Israel that they would be blessed more and more, that they might be known as the people of Jehovah.

    God is listening for the cry of Repentance – which releases His “Once More” Genuine repentance is the only hope our nation has for survival. God calls on all of us, to “turn” to Him “with all our heart”. He calls on us, to “rend” our hearts and not just our “garments” (which is a symbol for an outer show without an inner change). God isn’t looking for mere external displays of religion; He is looking for heart change. He is looking for a people who are broken and who are willing to change. He is looking for a people who will be sorrowful “with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning over our world”) This is the kind of people He will bless, restore and use, and He is anxiously waiting.

    God is Listening For A Cry Of Restoration … which releases His “Once More” God calls on all the people, from the oldest to the youngest, to come back to Him, . He calls for those occupied and consumed by the matters of this life to put Him first again, a place on our “to do list” where He is our first priority.. He’s calling on the spiritual leaders of the people to come back to Him in an intense relationship, that goes beyond the Pastor’s job or the deacon’s role, or the going through the motion of doing church. God wants His people to seek His face once more. He wants them to get hungry for Him one more time. God calls His people back to a place of closeness and holiness, God is calling His people back to Himself.

    I could be wrong, but I believe the church will experience one more great earth shaking, purifying revival and reformation before the Lord comes and we can see it coming out of West Virginia and some other places that are being reported even now. I believe that God is going to purify His church and bring us to a place of repentance and restoration one more time. Right now I can think of 12 hot spots that are on fire with revival….

    There is a great Charismatic awakening in China. Nothing in the history of missions rivals the success story that is China. They have gone from 2.7 million believers to nearly 80 million believers. One woman in India was saved from a radio broadcast, she started a house meeting, they called in a pastor and the church has planted 200 other churches, and that’s just one province in India. In Iran, hundreds of thousands of Shiites are coming to Christ and the pastors are saying that everyone they share the gospel with, wants to be saved. The response right now is overwhelming… In Ghana Africa, one church started with 12 people, in 8 years it grew to 2000 and it now has over 35,000 christians in just one church in the capital city. Brazil, a nation of 250 million, is experiencing a great spiritual awakening…. In Ethiopia, some 20% of the population is Christian as folks are being swept into the kingdom by a charismatic revival..In Guatemala, 24% of the population is evangelical Christian…. Romania is touching Eastern Europe with a current wave of Charismatic revival. In Pakistan, Muslims are coming to Christ, through signs, wonders and miracles…In Kazakhstan, believers are experiencing a great harvest of souls in the former Soviet Republic… Singapore has become a mission sending station of the east….In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim population, has 15 million believers and what is happening has been called a culture defining spiritual revolution….

    Noah Webster, the man who wrote the dictionary. Was once caught in the kitchen by his wife, in the act of kissing the cook. "Why, Mr. Webster," she said, "I'm surprised." Known for his correct grammar, he replied. " No, my dear, I'm surprised, you're shocked and amazed."

    God only wants to surprise us, He wants to shock and amaze us, and when He does, there will be no doubt as to Who is in control. There will be no doubt about Who is to be worshiped and glorified. Even the enemies of the church will have to acknowledge that God walks among His people. There will be no doubt about what the source is and Who is doing the work.

    In February 1980, the U.S. Olympic hockey team slipped its foot into a glass slipper and walked away with a gold medal at Lake Placid, New York. Those college kids had shocked the world by upsetting the powerful Soviet team, and then they grabbed the championship from Finland while the crowd chanted, "U.S.A., U.S.A!" Before his team's victory over the Soviet Union which advanced them to the finals, the coach of the U.S. hockey team told his players, "You were born to be here. You have been prepared for this moment. This is your time." This is what God is saying to the church…."You were born to be here. You have been prepared for this moment. This is your time."

    Romans 13:12 “The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the work he began when we first believed. v13 We can't afford to waste a minute, we must not squander these precious hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. v14 Get up and get ready! Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Prepare yourselves in Christ, and be up and about”!                           

    As we journey together towards the final setting sun, on this earth as we know it, we will continually experience checkmates in our personal and corporate lives. In the game of Chess, a checkmate, means that you have no more moves left to make. You are blocked on every side, with no escape and nowhere to turn.      

    Checkmates in life, can be ...An incurable illness...A broken relationship...A wayward son or daughter...Financial ruin......A past that is destroying your future.   Satan was crying “checkmate” as they took the bleeding, torn body of Jesus down from the cross and placed it in the tomb….

    In these dark times of seeming defeat, we must always remember that behind every circumstance there is a supernatural power at work, and the King, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will always have one more move! God places the steadfast covenant symbol of the rainbow across the shifting, changing parchment of unpredictable clouds and our circumstances. No matter how desperate your situation--it may even look like you have no options left—but THE KING HAS ONE MORE MOVE up His sleeve.

    How do I know this? How can I be so confident to declare this to you? I know because our King has a well-documented history of all kinds of amazing last moves. I know this because...Seas don’t just normally split open to allow people to pass through on dry ground, by themselves.

    Water doesn't just normally spring forth from a rock on it’s own. Food enough for around 6 million people, doesn't just normally accumulate on the ground every night as a random event…… An old man holding up his arms normally, does not determine the outcome of a war…..Thick city walls don't just fall down flat when people blow horns……Men thrown into furnaces and lion’s dens do not just walk out without a scratch or the smell of smoke……A jar of oil doesn't just normally keep refilling itself…..Actual dead men don't just walk out of their graves except in a fictional TV series…..Threatening storms don't just stop because someone talks to them…..Shackles don't just miraculously fall off on their own and prison doors unlock themselves and open up……But the King always has one more move that the devil has not considered.

    Haggai 2:23 In that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will take you, and I will make you as a signet:I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts”
A signet is a sign of the authority of God. God was saying, “I will make you a sign to this generation, for I have chosen you—even in your captivity and despair.”

   Before we called out, it was His choice and His decision, not ours! We are God’s secret weapon, that He puts into play just when Satan thinks he has won total victory. He is calling us to be ambassadors of the kingdom in this last generation. God is calling His church, in every place, and out of every denomination. Nothing is over until God says it’s over!
    The only choice we have is whether or not we will hear His voice and respond to it. Either we believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life—that He can fill us with His Spirit, put His power in us, bring us into freedom and do the miraculous through our lives, or not!
    Remember, the Lord has promised: “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former...A greater glory, once more shall be visited upon His church!  Once more, He will pour out the oil and fill every vessel… Once more we will enter into the promised land covenant…. Once more, we will see souls saved and set free, families restored, and God’s people set ablaze for Him…..Once more!!!

    God heard Samson’s cry and He hears yours. He still longs to do more in your life than you have ever envisioned. The voice of God has come once again, calling us to rebuild. He is calling us into a freedom and ability that can come only from Him. I implore you today in Christ’s name to step out of all bondage and captivity—whatever it is in your life that has convinced you that God will never use you. Leave that place behind! As you respond to His voice, the Lord will strengthen you, give you His Word, fill you with His Spirit, and cause you to be a demonstration of His resurrection life in this generation! Your “once more” is calling…..answer the call!

How many would be willing to stand and declare “ONCE MORE”!!!
 

Posted by: AT 07:15 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 17 2016

What is Truth?

    Winston Churchill….A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is still putting it’s pants on.”

Virginia Wolf….To speak the truth with the wrong motives, is just as cruel as telling a lie….

Mark Twain…..If you always tell the truth, you don't have to be concerned if you have a really bad memory.

George Orwell… “Perhaps the truth does not want to be loved as much as it wants to be understood.”

    When Jesus asked the man about his son who was taken with fits, this father had the right answer….Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If you can believe, all things are possible to those who believe. v24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I do believe; help my unbelief”.

    What this guy was saying, is “I believe the truth with my head, but I want to believe the truth with all my heart”!

    Truth is the master key that opens every locked thing which would hold us captives and keep us from the favor and blessings God desires for us to enjoy….When our thoughts align with God’s thoughts, His reality aligns itself with our reality…..Being a person of the word, causes you to view everything through the lens of God’s truth

    When you know the truth, You can no longer live or operate in the grey zones of life…..where everything is relative to how you feel or what the popular thing is at the moment…

    The Grey Zone may feel good, look good, and it may not require as much dedication or sacrifice. The Grey zone may suffice for a politically correct Christian–who is all about fitting in with society. The Grey zone may be loved and accepted and allow a Christian to fit comfortably in with the world. The Grey zone can even have an outward look of success. The sea of Grey doesn’t rock many boats–and it doesn’t cause many waves.

The grey zone is about playing it safe….It’s for the complacent and exists in the fog of compromise….it is apathetic….The Grey zone numbs us and dulls our senses to the sinfulness of sin…and the evil that is in evil. It is only interested in maintaining status quo ….Grey zone living doesn’t experience God working amazing miracles, because it is busy living below its potential. The Grey zone operates in feeling, and not by faith…..It’s like cutting with a dull knife....The grey zone makes for a Christian life with no power because those in the grey zone only pray when they’re desperate, and they read the word without any personal change….

    Jesus is never found living in the grey zone. He lived in the white-hot zone of commitment and surrender to the Father. When he was in a flesh body, He upset all the boats of the folks in the grey zone and turned them upside down just as he did the money changers in the temple.

    Truth is like that….the problem with truth is that when you know it, you can’t tip-toe around the issues anymore….and even though you may try to put it in a way that will not be offensive and rejected, with truth, silence is no longer an option!

    A long standing family of the church, invited their pastor for Sunday dinner. While they were in the kitchen preparing the meal, the minister asked the young son what they were having. "We’re having Goat," the little boy told him. "Goat?" replied the startled pastor, who didn’t think goat sounded very appetizing "Are you sure about that?" "Yep," said the youngster. "I heard Dad say to Mom, 'It’s been a while since we had the pastor join us for dinner.. now is good a time to have the old goat.'

    Truth is not always comfortable, but these are desperate times. If your neighbor’s house was on fire and the whole family was asleep inside–mom, dad, the kids and the family pets….It would demand action and commitment….it would be a do or die situation, there would be no hesitation about what needed to be done….People would die if they weren’t warned and if someone didn’t help them get out of the building…. you would do everything in your power to get them out. You would Yell. Scream. Draw attention to the danger. Smash windows and doors. Whatever you could do to get them out! There are times when truth demands, we rise up, and operate with the “whatever it takes” kind of action… and this is those times.

    God has a name for paralyzing fog of the grey zone, or a “go with the flow” mentality that is so prevalent today …..He says grey is lukewarm. God actually doesn’t like grey, in His own words, He says that it makes Him gag. (look at it)

    Revelation 3:15,16 “I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth”.  WOW!

    God wants us to be living, white-hot lives for Him. White hot, full of zeal, passionately pursuing Him, and passionately pursuing people with His message of love and grace. Bringing light into the darkness, While at the same time, we have a compassion and sensitivity for those who are sorting and processing through their own life concepts and values and they are all around us. At times it can be a delicate balancing act….

And we usually end up tip-toeing around the truth because we are afraid of losing something….What are we afraid of losing?....Is it our job? Or our spouse? Or our kids? Or our house? Or how about our position? Or titles, Or our friends, our influence, Or our money?, or worse, our life? What you fear losing is an accurate barometer of what is controlling you.

    People work double overtime securing a life for themselves–striving, to gather and hold on to all manner of things. But, if we value Jesus most, we will not be willing to exchange our approval from Him for all the other things or people that we may count important.

    As Stephen was being stoned, because of the truth he was declaring, instead of thinking of all the things of the world that he would be losing….he saw only the one thing that was most important and that is what he would be gaining…..He raised his voice above the mocking and jeering of his persecutors and said “I see Jesus, standing at the Father’s right hand”…. The right hand is the place of favor, and Jesus was letting Stephen know that favor was on him as he received his promotion to Glory, even under these terrible circumstances…..as a result of Stephen’s refusal to compromise the truth, Paul, one of the most prominent apostles, who wrote most of the new testament, and reached the gentile world for Christ, was converted as the Holy Spirit used the power of the truth that was spoken by Stephen to transfer into the spirit of Paul….

    Bill Gaither wrote in His song “Joy comes in the morning”…it says “To invest your seeds of trust in God in mountains you can't move, and to risk your life on things you cannot prove. And to give the things you cannot keep for what you cannot lose, is the way to find the joy God has for you.”

Jesus said, “What does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul.. or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

    The longer I live, the more I know, God wants us to rightly divide Truth and bring His life-changing grace to a world that desperately needs something solid, dependable and secure in their lives.

    Truth can feel like the elephant in the room…We all know it is there, but often we don’t know what to do with it, where to put it or how it fits in with what we have planned and decided in our lives!!! Truth is still truth even if no one believes it and a lie is still a lie even if everyone believes it!

    But truth is about building trust, and trust is more important than popularity! Preaching is communication that is one directional. There is a speaker and a hearer, but relationships have two-way communication. Superficial relationships will produce superficial disciples, superficial followers, and superficial friends, with no depth or real commitment, because it’s all superficial.

    But intimacy can only come through trust that is built on a foundation of truthfulness and transparency, and that requires honest communication and Openness, that’s why intimacy is pronounced “Into me see”. It means that all parties in the relationship are communicating, honestly, openly, with sincerity and with love. To relate with one another beyond what is on the outside, we must let, “the truth in me, to see the truth in you”

    A young couple were struggling to make ends meet on a meager salary, the husband was livid when he confronted his wife with the receipt for a $250 dress she had bought. "How could you do this, knowing how tight money is?!" "Well, she said, I was outside the store looking at the dress in the window, and the next thing I knew, I found myself trying it on, It was like Satan was whispering in my ear, 'You look fabulous in that dress. You must have it, you can’t live another day without it, Buy it!'" "Well," the husband responded, "You know how I deal with that kind of temptation. I say, 'Get behind me, Satan!" "Oh, I did that, , she said, but that devil just said, hey, It looks fabulous from back here, too!'"

    Truth and grace go hand in hand. And while the bible is extreme black and white in the truth it presents, that truth must operate with, and be poured through the funnel of grace and love. The Bible truth pulls no punches, but all grace and a sprinkle of truth equals weak, grey Christians. All truth and no grace equals legalistic, Christ-less religion, void of life and power.

    Psalm 51:6 tells us that the Father desires Truth in the inner most parts. The message of Jesus is extreme and it is radical. It requires a choice: To the rich young ruler, he gave a choice, to the disciples he demanded a choice if they were to follow Him, To Nicodemus He demanded a choice….There is no room in the gospel message for grey, choose Jesus, and choose truth or don’t choose Him, and don’t choose truth, but understand that regardless of our choice, He is THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE.

    A lot of folks want to blend in, fit in and be part of whoever they’re with, so they become chameleon Christians. They camouflage themselves so they don’t stand out and draw attention to themselves….Someone said that if you see someone wearing camouflage gear, be sure to run right into them, and knock them over, so they’ll think the camouflage is actually working….

    John 1:14  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. In other words we could say… “The truth was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, as of the only begotten of the father, who was the fullness of the perfect blend of grace and truth”…

There’s no middle ground with God. No mixing of colors. No blending or watering down of convictions. It’s all, or it’s nothing at all. When your children are young, if you have blended together, grace, love and truth in raising them, even when you discipline them, they still know you love them and want the best for them….

    Many of us are believing God for great things for our life, wanting to see revival in our time, we want to see our city changed by the gospel, and our nation too. However God puts it right back on us. He simply says, it starts with you. It starts with all of us. It has to begin with each of us as individuals. What is the status of my heart and what is my position, where the rubber meets the road, in relationship to His truth?

    John 8:32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. What Jesus was saying is that seeking for truth outside of The one who is the truth is only an exercise in futility and frustration….it’s like trying to stack ball bearings….                                                                                                                     

    The law of the pendulum states that if you tie a weight on a string and bring it to it’s highest point and release it, the arc will diminish each time it swings, until in about a minute, it will stop. The point at which it stops is called the point of equilibrium, when all forces acting upon it are equilized. Truth has a point of equalization… when you twist it to your own ends…     (it is known as stretching the truth)….It will find it’s point of equilization!! Folks refer to this process as, “what goes around, comes around”…                                                                                                                                    

    A Charlotte NC man purchased a box of 24 very rare and expensive cigars then took out a fire insurance policy on them. Before his first insurance payment came due, he smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars. He then filed a claim against the insurance company. In his claim, the man stated the cigars were lost "in a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay, but he sued the insurance company.... and he won!  Under the terms of the policy the company was obligated to pay the claim. The insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $24,000.00 to the man for his loss of the rare cigars lost in the "fires.”  However, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON!!!! And the man was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000.00 fine. THAT MY FRIEND IS THE LAW OF THE PENDULUM!!! When you try to stretch and manipulate the truth!                                             

    2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked (untruthful) ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – Put another way….If I refuse to humble myself, pray and seek God, turn from my wicked or (untruthful) ways, and stop living by a double standard, my Christianity will be powerless in seeing my family, my church, my city, or my nation changed for Him.                                                                                                                                                      

    What are the wicked ways spoken of in this scripture? They are all those ways in which we have abandoned God’s truth by flip flopping and trying to stand in two places! These things have a way of embedding themselves in every aspect of the internal and external world of our thinking and emotions, our heart and soul. When we humble our heart and get honest with Him, confessing all the places where truth has been mixed with the world’s reasoning and compromise, it is then that we will see the power of the truth, transform, purify and cleanse us….                                                                                                         

    1John 1:8 “If we continue to deceive ourselves, then the truth is not in us. v9 If we confess our sins (ham-ar'-tay-mah…missing the mark of His truth) He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (ham-ar'-tay-mah), and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (ad-ee-kee'-ah….our actions that spring forth from an absence of the truth)”.                                                                                                                 

    If we refuse to humble our hearts before God, all this untruth remains in us. It becomes something the enemy can, and will, at the opportune time, use against us, to divide, confuse and conquer God’s people.                     

    Superficiality creeps in quickly, dislodging and isolating people from relationships, from churches, and sometimes from faith….because of the division within ourselves. …When we are confused, and disillusioned about what we truly believe, we hinder the advancing of God’s kingdom in earth.                                                                     

     A pastor had a deep seated fear of getting leprosy. He had read that the early signs are loss of feeling in the limbs, and he was always rubbing his legs, and if he felt it, he knew he wasn’t getting leprosy. One Sunday at  dinner he reached under the table and started rubbing his leg. He couldn't feel a thing. He rubbed it again - harder this time. Still no sensation. Suddenly he shocked everyone as he blurted out, " Oh, no ! I've got it ! " A young lady sitting next to slapped him and yelled, "You’ve got it all right and you had better leave it alone”!!! There are many so called Christians who have great difficulty connecting their faith with their everyday actions.

    Perhaps the greatest challenge for believers who desire to walk in truth that is mixed with grace, is to see far enough into the heart of someone who is being a hypocrite, to discover his inner place of sincerity. It is from that place, transformation can begin to occur.                                                   

    Why do we oppose our own selves and fight against ourselves? Why do we know one thing and yet do something else? Why do we ask for God’s blessing and yet do what we know He cannot bless?  Why do we do evil and wonder why good doesn’t happen?

    Matthew 12:25 “Jesus said, every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or house divided against itself cannot stand”. This is true of our families, our church, and our nation and ourselves.

    Pure Truth is a Personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you are a believer in Christ, all your sins are forgiven. Your slate is wiped clean and ready for God to write upon. He writes according to His eternal covenant He has entered into with you. You are an heir and joint-heir….

    Truth is Your New Position. You are no longer an outsider. As His child, you have the privilege of approaching His throne at any moment for grace to handle any situation. He is never too busy and He is always available and willing. As Kings and Priests you have authority in the physical and the spiritual realms.

    Truth is Your Possession. There is no power greater than truth. When everything else has disappeared and gone, truth will remain. When you handle truth, you are touching eternity. Truth has embedded within it, peace, joy, safety, health, life, abundance and prophetic fulfillment.

    Truth is Your New Identity. It is your password and access to heavenly things, a window of revelation, It moves angels, and drives away demon forces. Forces in heaven and earth, know us by the truth that is in us!     

    David was a king in a shepherd’s body. When David stood for the truth, He stepped into his new identity….Sometimes God will put a goliath test in your life, so you can tap into the David spirit within you…. Total and complete victory in our families, our churches, our cities, and our nation depends on opening up to this inner Godly champion of truth, that is there by the Holy Spirit.

    John 18:37 is the conversation between Jesus and Pilate…“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. And Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to give witness to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” v38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked….”

    This is one of the most profound questions ever asked! Is it what the Doctor told you, or the lawyer, or political correctness?  Jesus said “You shall know the truth and the truth *…..shall set you free”!!!! And He qualified that by saying “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

    The lame man found Him and went home walking….The blind man found Him and went home seeing..The deaf man received his sight..The demon possessed man was set free.. the prostitute received forgiveness..The multitudes connected with God. They all encountered the one who is truth!

   A man became lost in his travels and wandered into a pool of quicksand. Confucius saw the man’s predicament and said, “It is evident that men should stay out of places such as this.” Next, Buddha observed the situation and said, “Let that man’s mistake be a lesson to us all.” Then Mohammed came by and said to the sinking man, “Alas, it is the will of Alah.” Finally, Jesus appeared on the scene ad said, “Here, take my hand, and I will bring you out.”

    If You shall know the truth shall set you free!!!!  When you need peace “He is the prince of peace. When you’re groping in Darkness “He is the light of the World.” When you’re lost “He is the way”…..He’s your great Shepherd…He’s the word of almighty God….He’s the greatest teacher that ever walked the planet…He’s the healer… He’s the door that opens and no one can shut it He’s the beginning of all things & He’s the finisher of all things…. He’s always with us and His Spirit is in us….He’s a greater artist than Van Gogh and rainbows after the rain, the colors of fall, and the flowers and beautifully colored birds and the fish of the sea are His handiwork….He’s the best counsellor you can find anywhere….He’s our attorney who represents us before, man, the angels and God…His wisdom surpasses all the wisdom of all the wisest that ever lived….

    Jesus is the answer, But most important of all, He’s the savior of the world, who connects us back to the Father, and guarantees that we will reign with Him forever!!!!  His truth is the key to every problem, it’s the revelation to every mystery.. a plan for every tomorrow….it is the light at the end of the tunnel…and the solution we’ve all been searching for…..You shall know the Truth and the truth shall set you free….
 

Posted by: AT 01:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 10 2016

Mothers Are a God Idea….

And the Lord exalted the place of Motherhood when he chose to enter this earth realm through a virgin named Mary.

Mothers are one of the most valuable resources on the planet! Each of us owes our very existence to our Mom as does everyone in all of history!

    Genesis 2:18 tells us that Adam was alone….and To remedy the situation, God said “ I will give you, a “help meet”…a surrounder, one who comes to the aid of, one who helps, a protector, one who succours. The word succour, found only 3 times in the bible, means to connect and bind yourself to another so completely, that in order for one to fall, both would have to fall.

    Ecclesiastes 4:9  Two are better than one; because together they have    a greater reward for their labor. v10  For if they fall, the one will lift up the other. v11 Together, they have heat when it’s cold, for it is more difficult for one be warm alone. v12  And if one of them be overwhelmed, two shall withstand him, and a braided cord is not easily broken.

    Mothers, are God’s way of saying, that the human race would never have to feel alone again, because no matter what, Mom, would forever be bound to them since we all began this journey of life, next to her heart.         I heard the story of a little boy who wondered where babies came from so he asked his mother. "Mom, how did I get here?"  She wasn't quite prepared for “THE TALK”…so she told him a tall tale about a stork delivering him.                                     

    Without further questions he scampered upstairs to see his grandma. "Grandma, where did my mom come from?" Her story deviated slightly but she painted a tale of a beautiful white bird that delivered her from a far away island and dropped her down the chimney. Later that afternoon his mother overheard Johnny's conversation with a friend.

    "You know what Billy, I asked my mom and grandma about my family history today and I'm really worried. There hasn't been a normal birth in our family for at least three generations."

    Scriptures are specific when they speak of the important subject of motherhood. In fact, it reveals that there are 2,930 individuals mentioned    by name in the Bible….. 327 of those that are mentioned, are women, nearly all of those women are mothers.

We know more good things and specific details about women from God’s word than from any other ancient document ever written. For example….

•We see her as the crowning act of creation, and its finishing touch.

    Genesis records that God had only one bad report during this process. The Genesis account is filled with “It was good”, for each thing He made, but here, we see that something it ‘not good”  God said it is “not good” for man to be alone’. When he made woman, He made her to transform, what was “not good” into very good”! (look at your wife or girlfriend, and say  “very good”!!) So, God’s plan was to make a woman to be the   match, the completion, the missing part, the good part – the surrounder and the finisher for every man. (They make us look good, men!)                         

    Some guys were kidding the groom before the wedding, and said “it’s been nice knowing you, Bob..you’re a good man, but once you’re married, Dude, you’re finished!!

It has been said, that God made man and immediately thought He could do better – so he made woman.

    One poet has written….She rises up at break of day and through her  tasks she races. She cooks the meals as best she may and scrubs the children’s faces. While schoolbooks, lunches, homework too, all need consideration...Still, the census man insists, that she has “No Occupation.” When breakfast dishes all are done, She bakes a pudding, maybe. She cleans the rooms up, one by one, With one eye on the baby. The mending pile she then attacks, by shear determination, and yet the census man insists, she has  “No Occupation.” She sorts and washes clothes then she presses pants for Daddy. She welcomes with a cheery smile returning lads and lasses.  A hearty dinner next she cooks (no time for relaxation), and yet the census man insists, She has—“No Occupation.”

    One mom was filling out a job resume and she put down the following list to describe her job experience….Executive CEO of Family Corperation…. Law Enforcement officer…. Activity Coordinator… English Language interpreter…Emergency Medic…President of Waste Management… Fast Food Chef… Crises Negotiator… Search & Rescue…Teen Sex Counselor… Spiritual advisor…Safety Commissioner…Art Critic…Philanthropist for Little People…

Teenage Dating Service….Chief Drug Counselor….Anger Management Specialist….CEO of the Department of Make Believe….Dental Hygienist…

Top Secret agent…..Personal Chauffeur & Driver instructer…..Hairstylist…

Party Planner…and President of Fan Club…(when they looked at the resume they stamped it…. Over qualified!!!)

    A look at Genesis gets to the heart of the matter, that Moms are a God idea, so that’s got to make you and all moms, today a mighty good idea!          

    1. Moms are, by virtue of their very nature, involved in warfare…Each Mom could arise each day and declare, “This means war”! and have every right to do so!

   Genesis 3:15  And I will put enmity (aw-yab'….hostility, warfare) between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your offsprings and her offsprings..                                                       The good news Moms, is that as you stand in the God Idea of you….

    “You shall crush the head of the evil one…..who is out to destroy your marriage, your kids, your family and your legacy…..

    In the record of the genealogy of Christ, we see a number of key women listed, if you begin with Eve…and one of the things that these women show us is that each mom isn’t effective by simply imitating others, but by  seeking out the gifts and blessings which they can uniquely offer their families and the future of earth. That is not a license for irresponsibility by claiming… ”this is just the way I am!) but it comes with an immense challenge, that by struggling, collecting wisdom, and discerning what is right and faithful, you can become exactly the mother God created you to  be rather than a copy of someone else.

   The list of moms which are found in the genealogy of Christ, in the gospel of Matthew, spotlights five women, and allows us to understand that God gives us different types of mothers because we all have different needs and challenges. Some of us struggle to understand boundaries and responsibility, some of us struggle to find our independence. Some of us  children need to be coaxed into hitting the books, some who are book-worms, need to be coaxed out of the books from time to time. Some of us need more help making friendships, some of us need more help understanding what it means to have boundaries in our relationships.

Different mothers do things differently, and part of the challenge in this role of motherhood—like in many of the things God calls us to— is figuring out what it means to accomplish it, uniquely as you are called by God to do it.

   The first mother we will see that is in the lineage of Jesus, is in Matthew 1:3. Her name is Tamar, and in v.5 we see Rahab and Ruth and in v.6 there   is Bathsheba, v.16 we have Mary listed. The history each of these mothers, reveals the circumstances and the challenges which marked each one.

    Tamar was involved in an incestual relationship with her father in law, Judah and bore twin sons, Zarah and Pharez, and it is out of that incestual relationship, that both Ruth and Boaz descended from.

    Rahab was the Harlot of Jericho, who saved the lives of the Hebrew spies, that Joshua had sent in to spy out the city. She would eventually marry Salmon, of Judah and would end up in the lineage of Boaz, who married Ruth.

    Even though, Ruth descended from the Moabite nation which was the product of Lot’s incestual relationship with his daughter when they fled Sodom, she would non-the-less, be grafted into the line of Messiah.

    Bathsheba is one of the five, and she is known for her adulterous relationship with David. She was the wife of the commander of David’s elite personal body guards, known as the Thirty. This relationship resulted in her husband’s death. But we also know her as the mother of Solomon, the wisest King who ever ruled over Israel.

   Last we have Mary, known today as the “Supernatural mother”, she lived for thirty years with the stigma of giving birth to an illegitimate child, since she and Joseph weren’t married. (that’s the label her contemporaries put on her). Yet, God established her as the first lady and mother of the church.

    So, we have…. five women –with tainted reputations and stained by sin   or suspicion that most would feel had made them Unqualified at best to be in the lineage of the Messiah• But all were part of a grand display of supernatural grace through the sovereign plan of the God who wanted everyone to know that grace is not what you deserve, but it is given, no matter what you may deserve.

    There was no pain too great, no past too bad, no problem too big, no stain too deep and no task too great, that it couldn’t be overcome by a Mother’s love. Each of them were grafted into the line of Christ by a God  who saw beyond their faults and saw our needs. They were indeed, God’s Idea!

    Genesis, declares that the woman was made in the image and likeness   of God….That tells me that you, Mom, were created and enabled to operate as one of the best Ideas God ever had, as you fulfill your place and calling   in life….as a matter of fact, without this Divinely originated dimension, you would never be able to fulfill the destiny that was and is the God Idea…that is you!

    John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name: v13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but born of the (the idea) of God”.

    In the natural realm so often it’s about competition, but in the God Idea, it’s about Completion… Instead of playing king of the mountain, Moms are called of God, to work together with us to complete us and assist us in the unfolding plan of God for us. To finish what God has begun…

    With God’s Idea of Motherhood, instead of contention, there’s prevention.          If I spoke to my mom the way some kids do today, I wouldn’t even be here   to speak to you today!!!! As Mothers operate in the peace of God, instead of an atmosphere of agitation and contention, their soft answer turns away wrath.                  

    Proverbs 16:32 They that rule their spirit, are mightier than they that conquer a city.

     Proverbs 29:2  When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked rule, the people groan and sigh.                                                 

    Where there are Moms, operating in the God Idea, instead of dishonor,     there is honor. Those in authority are honored, parents are honored, children are honored…Winnie never used the warning..“wait till your dad gets home”

because she wanted it to be a joyous time…..Redeemed children of God live their lives honorably. Someone said, be sure to honor the trash collector, and the maintenance people, you may need a job some day!!!

    When Moms operate in the God Idea, instead of accusations, there is affirmation. Scientist telI us, it takes 37 muscles to frown and only 22 muscles to smile…which tells us two things…(1) Scientists have way too much free time on their hands and (2) you save far more energy and get more accomplished, by smiling! I’m convinced that we are dealing with an addiction to anger and hate in our modern society….

    When Moms operate in the God Idea, instead of aggravating, they’re   busy elevating people. Aggravate, means to make worse…. to escalate an inflammation… It would be like trying to put out a fire with gasoline!

    A girl asked her mom to explain the differences between irritation, aggravation, and frustration. The Mom picks up the phone and dials a number at random. When the phone is answered, she asked, "Can I speak to Manilla, please?" " There is no one called Manilla here," says the person who answered the phone. The mother hangs up. "That's irritation," she says. She picks up the phone again, dials the same number, and asks for Manilla a second time. " Don’t you get it, the person says, there's no one here called Manilla. Go away, if you call again I will telephone the police," The mother hangs up and says, "Now dear, that's aggravation.” "Then what's frustration? " asks the daughter. The mother picks up the phone and dials the same number a third time. "Hello, this is Manilla. Have I received any phone calls today?". Then turning to the daughter, she says, “Now, that’s frustration”                                                                                                                         

   Moms that are the God Idea, are always Elevating those under their circle of influence….instead of  irritating, aggravating, and frustrating them.

    Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that bring good tidings, that publish peace; that bring good tidings, that publish salvation; that say unto Zion, Your God reigns! v8  Your watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, for the LORD shall bring forth His people again to Zion. v9  Break forth into joy, the waste places shall sing together, for the LORD comforts and redeems His people”.

    A mother was scowling at her son's bad Report Card.  In defense of himself the boy, attempting to divert attention from the bad grades, says "So, what do you think the problem is Mom? Could it be Heredity or maybe it’s my environment?"

    Alcoholics justify their problem, by saying they have a sickness….. Criminals and mass murders justify by saying they had a bad childhood… Drug addicts justify, by saying they have a genetic defect. Students blame teachers, teachers blame administration, administration blames government, and government blames everyone! No one owns the problem, and by passing the buck, families crumble, students graduate without learning, industry collapses, and government becomes disconnected from the people.

    Transformation begins stop self-justification…when we accept the miracle of God’s Grace which doesn’t condemn, blame, or pass the buck… but by the engrafted Word of God, it transforms our thinking, which results   in transformed action and behavior. And it begins as each of us moves from the natural realm to the realm that is God’s Idea, where God begins to renew His image and likeness in us through redeemed values and transformed life principals.

   When God created mothers, He was well into His sixth day, when an angel who had watched God create Adam, appeared and said, "You're adding a lot of extras with this other model." The Lord replied, "have you seen the specs on this model? She has to be completely vulnerable but not weak, She must have 180 moveable parts, Run on black coffee and leftovers; Have a lap and a backside that instantly disappears when she stands up; A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointing love affair; And six pair of hands." The angel shook her head slowly and said, "Six pair of hands? No way!" "Well, It's not the hands that are causing me problems," said the Lord. "It's the three pair of eyes that mothers have to have."One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks 'What are you kids doing in there?' and she already knows. Another in the back of her head that sees what she doesn’t want to, but what she needs to know, and of course the ones in front that look at a child when he goofs up and says, 'I understand and I love you,' Without ever speaking a single word. "I'm so close to creating something that is so like myself. Already, I have a model who heals herself when she is sick ...can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger ...and get a nine year old to stand still for a minute. Not only can she think, she can reason have insight into things before they happen, and the ability to compromise."

Finally, the angel bent over and ran a finger across the cheek of the mother. "There's a leak," it pronounced, "I told you that you were trying to put too much in this model." "That's not a leak," said the Lord, "it's a tear." "What’s it for?" asked the angel.

The Lord replied, "It's for expressing joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness and it’s her way of showing pride in her family." "You're a genius!" shouted the angel. With a serious look on his face, the Lord said, "I didn't put it there, her love and concern for her family created that part of her."

    A mom who operates in the God Idea, knows that a woman’s work is never done, and yet, she understands that the Alpha and Omega, is the author and finisher, who directs her life and actions, and has secured the victory before the battle has begun.

    Moms, who operate in the God Idea, help their families and children look beyond their disappointments in order to recognize opportunities in disguise…..and their families learn to see opportunities everywhere!

    1Corinthians 13:6 Love Rejoices in the truth. v7 Bears all things,      (steg'-o.. or it transforms every situation) believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. v8 Love never fails”…..

Mother, You are designed to be a God Idea!!!!

    We believe with you that you will have Marvelous Mondays,Tremendous Tuesdays, Wonderful Wednesdays, Terrific Thursdays, Fabulous Fridays, Spectacular Saturdays, and Supernatural Sundays!!!!

   How about a big hand right now, for the crowning jewel of God’s creation, the finishing touch and the ultimate gift to families… our mothers!

I want every Mom to stand please (and every mom to be) We want to pray a special prayer of blessing over and upon you today…..

    PRAYER…Heavenly Father, You have entrusted moms with the care of every precious human life from its very beginning in the womb. You given    to women the capacity of participating with You in the creation of new life. Grant that every woman may come to understand the full meaning of that blessing, which gives her an unlimited capacity for unselfish love for every child she may be privileged to bear, and for all Your children. Give her courage in times of fear or pain, understanding in times of uncertainty and doubt, and hope in times of trouble. Release in them the gifts, to impart wisdom faithfully to their children, and to all who depend upon them. We speak blessing upon "spiritual mothers", those who, though they may have no children of their own, nevertheless selflessly care for the children of others.

Send Your Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to surround and sustain all mothers who sorrow for children that are in trouble or danger of any kind. We ask your blessing on all those to whom You have entrusted motherhood. May Your Holy Spirit constantly inspire, enlarge, refresh and strengthen these   as mothers who are God’s Idea, and there is something supernatural in what  You designed them to be. Let the example of their faith, love and amazing courage and resilience shine forth as an example to all. As they depend upon You, Lord, may their hopes and dreams be fulfilled!

Grant that we, their sons and daughters, may honor them always with a spirit of profound respect, honor, and appreciation. May they look forward   to eternal joy in Your presence, here and in the life to come. We ask this through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns, world without end…..AMEN.
 

Posted by: AT 11:29 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 03 2016

WHAT IS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

    I begin with the question…What is love?  Here’s some answers which I submit for consideration and much of it I have had to learn the hard way, But hindsight can be very profitable….

    Love is silence--when your words would hurt and not heal. It is patience--when your neighbor is venting on you in a moment of weakness…It is deafness--when a scandal flows and gossip abounds. It is thoughtfulness--for another person’s flaws and broken places. It is consistent—when duty calls and it may be inconvenient. It is courage--when misfortune falls or others are at risk.

    A missionary found a starving mother lying on the ground and in her arms she held a young child. He placed a cooked sweet potato into the mother’s outstretched hand, and wondered if she would live until morning. Her strength was almost gone, but her tired eyes acknowledged the gift. The sweet potato could help so little -- but it was all the missionary had to give.

    Taking a bite she chewed it carefully. Then, placing her mouth over her young child's mouth, she forced the soft warm food into the tiny throat. Although the mother was starving, she used the entire potato to keep her baby alive. Exhausted from her effort, she dropped her head on the ground and closed her eyes. In a few minutes the baby was fed and asleep. He later learned that during the night the mother's heart stopped, but her young child had lived.

    Love is a costly thing. God, in His love for us (and for a lost world) "spared not His own Son" to show the world about Agape love.

    The Greek word “agape”, seems to have been virtually a Christian invention -- a new word for a new thing and in the earth, it is almost non-existent before the New Testament dawned. Agape draws its meaning directly from the revelation of God in Christ. It is not a form of natural affection, however, intense, but a supernatural fruit of the Spirit    

    Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, v23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. v24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. v25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit”.

    It is a matter of the will combined with a Godly passion for people, rather than a feeling, because Christians are called by God to love even those they may not like living, in the natural -- It is a basic, foundational  element of Christ-likeness.

    Some years ago, a noted Christian doctor and psychologist, was seeking the cause of many of his patients' prolonged illnesses. One day he called in his clinical staff and proceeded to unfold a plan for developing, in his clinic, an atmosphere of creative love. He referred to the Agape or unconditional love, which is described in the bible.     

    All patients were to be given large quantities of love; no unloving attitudes were to be displayed in the presence of the patients, and all nurses and doctors were to go about all their work in and out of the various rooms with a loving attitude. At the end of six months, the time spent by the patients in that institution was cut in half.

That atmosphere of loving acceptance and joyful welcome, should abound in every Christian church. Jesus called it the “Whosoever” attitude, which welcomes all people, everywhere.

    Matthew 5:44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you, v45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven”.

    Our church should be like the boy who was in the Christmas story reenactment. He was given the roll of the landlord at the Inn, who turned Mary and Joseph away, because there was no room. When the pageant was presented, and it was time for Mary and Joseph to knock on the door and ask him if he had a room for them. The boy smiled politely and said, "Why, Yes we do, we’ve got lots of room, please come on in!" He didn’t want to turn them away, and didn’t want anyone to feel left out!!!

    The greatest difference between “Agape” and Phileo, is that Phileo involves a voluntary “I feel like loving you” and Agape involves an involuntary “I can't help but love you no matter how I feel” response. There is no command to love in scripture that ever uses Phileo, it always uses Agape, when it is God’s requirement of us as His children.

    The feelings of love, must be constrained by the capacity to love. You see, the feelings of love, may be very random, irrational, and disloyal. They can easily go from I love you, to when I’m not with the one that I love, I love the one I’m with….. So I am limited by my capacity to be loving.

    What, you say!!!!??? Yes, I need to understand my capacity to be loving puts conditions on my feelings of love….True love is not a feeling by which we are overwhelmed in the moment. It is a committed, thoughtful, deliberate decision that I make. It is a commitment to be loving whether or not the loving feeling is present.     

    How many men and women have gotten in trouble, because they met a person who strongly attracted them, they enjoy being with that person, and even started developing an affection for them, but they didn’t understand that the capacity for them to do that put a limit on the feeling that might cause them to do it, because it would be destructive to their marriage or the relationship they have with someone else, to have an affair.

    Their feelings of love may be unbounded, but their capacity to be loving is limited. They have put conditions on the feeling of love, because it would violate their commitment which determines their capacity….

    So they must lead their heart and not let their heart lead them.

Puppy love is something that happens to millions of people. Love at first sight is easy to understand. But it's when those same two people have been looking at each other for 20 years and still get palpitations, that it is truly a miracle!

    You cannot expect someone to love you unconditionally when you keep asking them why they love you…. When you do that, it’s a contradiction, because you keep putting conditions on something that you need and want to be unconditional.

    A pastor was in the deep south, for a series of meetings, and it was his first time in the South. After staying in a motel overnight, he stopped at a nearby restaurant for breakfast. When the meal was delivered, the pastor saw this white, mushy looking stuff on his plate. When the waitress came by again he asked her what it was. "Oh, that’s Grits", she replied. "I didn't order it and I'm not paying for it". He said… "Sir, she said, down here you don't order it and you don't pay for it, you just git it."

On God’s end of things, that’s the way His unconditional love is, “You just get it”!!!

    And yet, it appears that the apostle Paul, is qualifying “Unconditional Love” in Philippians 1:9 “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment. v10 That you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. v11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God”.

    You see, while it is true that God’s love IS unconditional from His end of the equation, it is also true that on our end, something in us must change for us to truly receive this unconditional offer of the Agape kind of love, and be able to express it in our actions and motives.

    Let’s say I walk up to you and you are carrying two large boxes filled with stuff that you value. I am holding two other boxes filled with cash amounting to $10 million in large bills. I offer these boxes to you freely, without charge. No strings attached. My offer to you is unconditional. Simply take them, they are yours. So, my offer is unconditional. However, from your perspective there is a condition.

    You must first put down the boxes filled with all the stuff you value, so that you can take the boxes filled with 10 million that I offer.  So in reality, there is a condition you must meet to receive my unconditional offer. MY offer is unconditional but you must still meet a condition.

    Your full arms must be emptied in order to receive it. The condition is not on my side but on yours. God loves because God IS love and that is what Love does, it loves. We may fail to be able to experience or accept that level of love, and that inability may at some time diminish to Eros or Phlio carnal love.

    Listen, the world needs more than just a group hug to heal what is broken, But God never stops offering His Agape love, He never stops loving. How could he? God does not merely have love, He IS love.

    The Father’s offer is unconditional. But for you and me, from our side of the equation, there is a condition. We must let go of the hate, the resentment, the anger and the gratification of getting even with someone, in order to enter into it.

    During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, sentenced a soldier to be shot for his crimes. The execution was to take place at the ringing of the evening curfew bell. However, the bell did not sound at the appointed time . The soldier's fiancé had climbed into the belfry and clung to the great hammer of the bell to prevent it from striking and instead of striking the rim of the bell, her body took the all the hammering. When she was summoned by Cromwell to account for her actions, she wept as she showed him her bruised and bleeding hands, and the bruises on her head and body. Cromwell's heart was touched and he said, "Your lover shall live because of your sacrifice. Because of her sacrificial love, Curfew shall not ring tonight!"

    The love of God is always flowing, but there must be some redemptive work on the conductor in order for the Agape of God to complete it’s circuit in and through us….A copper wire is a conductor of electricity, and it connects the source to the necessary outlet. But if there is a short in the wire, the current is not able to reach it’s desired objective. Likewise, we can become shorted out by carnal emotions, appetites, motives and pursuits, so that we become flawed conductors of His love, and operate in Eros or at best Phileo.

    I came across a letter written by a young woman, who was trying to make amends to someone they had loved and lost….it says….

    “Dearest Jimmy, No words could ever express the great unhappiness I've felt since breaking our engagement. Please say you'll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I made a very foolish mistake, in failing to recognize the good thing I had. I love you, I love you, I love you! Yours forever, Marie. P.S., And congratulations on willing the state lottery”

   We can accurately measure our love for God by our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. So that loving God, is never a separate issue from our other relationships and it is inseparably linked to how we love others.

    Should the absence of love in others, affect our ability to love? Perhaps I could say it another way…. If folks around you choose to stay dirty and smelly, and never use soap to clean up and smell better…..does that keep you from using soap? Well, it’s the same with love!

   There are many who have bought into the sloppy Agape fuzzy love, I’m talking about the sentimental notion of unconditional love that is expressed in the old popular song which says, "Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live, he'll always say, 'I forgive." This is fuzzy romanticism and cheap (if you stroke the cat it purrs) grace, not the good news of Jesus Christ.

    Unconditional love does not mean unconditional salvation. No matter what, “God loves you”, is not the same, as no matter what, you will be saved....On the other hand, God can do everything, except make us love Him. Because if love was an obligation, then it would not and could not be the Agape kind of love.

    God’s love is constantly doing all that it is possible for God’s love to do… But the burden of our ultimate salvation rests fully upon our obedience. It is the message of the cross….If we want to be saved, we must repent of our sins, and ask to be forgiven, and invite Him into our lives. This means nothing less than giving Him the permission to speak His will into our daily journey….

    When I fall He lifts me up, When I fail, He forgives, When I am weak He is strong, When I am lost He is the way, When I am afraid He is my courage, When I stumble He steadies me, When I am hurt He heals me, When I am broken He mends me, When I am blind He leads me, When I am hungry He feeds me, When I face trials He is with me, When I face persecution He shields me, When I face problems He comforts me, When I face loss He provides for me, When I face loss He provides for me, When I face death He carries me home, He is everything for everybody, everywhere, every time and in every way. He is God, He is faithful, I am His and He is mine!!!

    A parent can love their children unconditionally, which means no matter what they do, they still love them….but if that parent’s unconditional love ignores the fact of the cross, and the salvation which it offers….when the child ends up in a place, separated from God and their Christian parents forever in a place called Hell, then the unconditional love from the parent, was not enough to save them.

    God loved us enough to provide a way so that we can receive the benefits of His love for all eternity, by making available to everyone a bridge into forever with Him called the cross.

    Simply by being alive, we receive the benefit of God’s unconditional love, but simply being alive will not save us or qualify us for heaven.

    Let me declare to you, that the unconditional love of God, is inseparably  bound to the unconditional promises of God….. We have a living word that liberates from guilt, evokes hope, and opens fresh possibilities for love and life. God’s love aligns itself with God’s promises…..

    It is the good news—good, wonderful, exhilarating, transformative, and deifying, because it is true for whosoever, whenever, whatever, wherever, and however. God’s promises are be absolute and unconditional, and entirely and utterly free of “if’s” or “buts” and “maybe’s” of any sort. God said it and that settles it, if I believe it or not!

No wonder the man said to Jesus “I do believe, Lord help my unbelief”!

    I don’t really get it, until I am able to hear God’s promises and I can say “Therefore, this is how it will be” …according to the unconditional promises of God… in spite of all that I see, hear, or feel and all considerations to the contrary.”

    “I am happy, I am wealthy, I am secure, I am positive, I am blessed, I am grateful, I am God’s amazing creation, I am confident, I am courageous, I am worthy, I am highly favored, and I am excited about God’s promises”!   I must believe this, because of His unmerited grace and favor, no matter what I see or what I feel, or what I think!

    If we never speak the promises of God as an unconditional contract we have been given, in the name of Christ, then we have simply never really spoken the gospel.

    I like what Gerhard Forde says….”Faith is a way of life”. Because the gospel is performative declaration— it changes the articulated world which its hearers inhabit, and thus it changes the hearer himself—it generates the kind of response we cannot easily describe: faith is just breathing and thinking and sensing and feeling and trusting and doing—all on the basis of the gospel. Faith is living in the language of the kingdom. “The faith by which one is justified”, “is not an inactive verb, it is a state-of-being verb. Faith is the state of being grasped by the unconditional claim and promise of the God who calls into being, that which is formed from that which is not”.                        

    Since God’s love and His immutable promises are unconditional, and flow from Him without having to depend upon any condition outside of Himself, they are a manifestation of His unconditional grace….

    We become God's sons according to God's will, long before we made a conscious choice to accept His Son Jesus…(does that sound like a contradiction..?

    Ephesians 1:5-11 “We have forgiveness according to His grace, which He made to abound to us, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself . We inherit all things according to His purpose, and He works all things according to His will”.

    God’s will from the beginning was that we all be children of God and heirs of all things, but this does not eliminate the exercise of our choice, for there are two words which connect us to the unconditional grace, love, and promises, flowing out of the very person of the Godhead.

    Those two words are alignment and obedience…Obedience is what aligns us, with what is flowing forth out of the Godhead, on a constant basis, without limits and without measure.

    A millionaire, was speaking in a local church, and he said, " I attribute my wealth to the rich blessings of God in my life, which began at a turning point in my faith. Bless God, it’s like it was yesterday in my mind.” You see, I had just earned my first dollar and I went to a church meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who told about his work, among the poor and needy. I knew that I only had a dollar bill and had to either give it all to God's work or nothing at all. So at that moment I decided to give my whole dollar to God. I believe that God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich man today." As he finished saying that, it was clear that everyone had been moved by his story of giving everything he had. But, a little old lady sitting in the front pew stood up and said: "Hallelujah, that’s a wonderful story! Now I dare you to do it again!"  God wants to do it again, and again, and again!!!!

    If someone announces that they are giving out free cruise tickets to Hawaii on the corner of Roosevelt Blvd and Kennedy Dr….you can stand on the corner of Flagler Ave. and Fifth St. all day long and I can promise you, you won’t get one! That’s about alignment…..

    The Bible contains many examples of people who received God's blessings by grace, yet they had to align themselves through obedience.

    God told Israel, as they came to Jericho, in their journey to the promised land. “I have given Jericho unto you”…. But to receive the gift, the people had to march around the city once each day for six days and seven times on the seventh day, blow horns, and shout. And when they did so, the walls fell down and they took the city.

But it is still grace, because the conditions did not earn the gift, the conditions aligned them with the promise through obedience.

    Elisha told Naaman, the Syrian general, to dip 7 times in Jordan and his leprosy would be cured. Naaman eventually did as he was told and was cured. But it was still grace, because the conditions did not earn the gift, the conditions aligned him with it through obedience. Have you been baptized, because baptism is first and foremost about alignment….

   With only 300 men, Gideon defeated an innumerable host of Midianites. It wasn’t his idea, it was God’s alignment idea….Gideon was to send everyone home who was fearful and afraid and who got on their knees and put their face In the water to drink. It was a condition, but it was still grace, because the conditions did not earn the gift, the conditions aligned them with it through obedience.

    A large sum of money was given to a ministry overseas to distribute to  poor pastors who labored there. Thinking that the amount was too much to send all at once, the accountant took just a part of the money, with an encouraging promise that said simply, “More to come.” In a month the ministry received another envelope containing the same amount and with the same message, “More to come.” Each month, there came another and another, with those hope filled words, “More to Come”.

    God’s unqualified grace, love, and promises, always come to us with the words “More to Come”…. because they are not only unqualified, they are also inexhaustible!!!!         

    Because of this, I know that God will show up and do amazing things in each of your lives. Life is a gift, so treasure it; Life is an adventure, so explore it; Life is a Lesson, so keep learning it; Life is a puzzle, so continue to solve it; Life is a game; so enjoy it; Life is a struggle, so face it; Life is beautiful, so embrace it; Life is an opportunity, so take it; Life is a gift, keep on unwrapping it!

    Child of God, Trust Him, for He doesn’t call the qualified, but He qualifies the called! He will use you in great and amazing ways as His instrument of blessing in the earth, not because you’ve earned it, and not because you deserve it, because you don’t. But because He has chosen you, just because He loves you with unqualified grace and love and will honor His unqualified promises to whosoever, however, whatever, wherever and whenever, as we align ourselves with Him through obedience.

    He will work through you, with you, and in spite of you… for the sake of Jesus His Son, our Savior.  He’s the God of many chances. He’s the God of supernatural positioning. We can trust the One “who redeems our life from destruction, who crowns us with lovingkindness and tender mercies”. Do you accept this as yours from God today?
 

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