Before service today, my wife got a call. I reminded her to be sure to turn off her ringer. In one church that wasn’t the case…After ringing cell phones kept going off in a church service, the pastor, put a post in the following week’s bulletin that said "Let’s turn offour phones and turn each other on." Well, how about doing that and find two or three people and tell them, “I’m here to get you turned on”!!! (turned on to faith and authority in Christ, of course)
The message today is “Don’t Stop Until You’re Finished” Spiritual warfare is not for sissies! Your flesh will want to quit on you…. The text I have chosen is…2Corinthians 10:3 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. v4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) v5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Don’t get distracted from the real battle…..Let’s take some time to look this over….Eve was looking over the apple, took a bite, gave it to Adam, and strongholds entered the earth. After Adam bit the apple, in shame, he quickly covered himself with a fig leaf. Eve, also felt shame and covered herself with a fig leaf. And I heard that then she checked out a maple leaf, a sycamore, and an oak……(I digress) Don’t let the Serpent distract you, from the real battle. You can’t try everything or you’ll never get back to where you should be….You can’t be indecisive and stop the process of transformation, just because you had a bad day and you don’t feel like fighting. If you do, it will be harder to regain what you’ve lost! (and the children of Adam are still working on that one)
There came a day, when Israel had reached a stand off with the Philistines, because in their indecision, and their compromise, they allowed the enemy to strengthen it’s forces. When David heard the taunts of Goliath, saw the fear of his brothers and the size of the Philistine army, he decided to engage the enemy in WARFARE! Notice how he approached the enemy…
1 Samuel 17:48 “And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose,and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hurried, andran toward the army to meet the Philistine”. (He ran toward the enemy, not away)! 1 Samuel 17:51 “Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, (Goliath was down, but not deadyet) and drew the sword out of the sheath, and slew him, and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled”. First, we see David hurrying to defeat the giant and now he hurries to FINISH the enemy off! You can't knock goliath down and not finish him off.Because king Saul was living in compromise and disobedience, he gave the enemy power. So, David ran and cut off his head(representing his power and authority). You can't stop when the enemy is simply knocked down. Cut off the head (which is the power and authority you have given it) and then- Keep going!Now, Goliath has
been defeated, is that the end? NO way!
David will have to face Goliath’s brothers… Just when you’re feeling good about the change in one area, TA-DA…
you see other places where improvement is necessary…. 2 Samuel 21:22 “These four giants were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.” David and his men had to kill the brothers of Goliath. One prayer won’t do it, we must walk in prayer and a fasted life. By Golly, Goliath has brothers and they will have to be faced eventually! Strongholds are places which have been built up over years and have become embedded in our lives. We can even begin to see them as who we are… our personality and well, just the way we do things….. Self-centered, quick tempered, negative, don’t trust anyone, shy, withdrawn, or loud and pushy….. We all have our strongholds…. There’s no exceptions….
2 Samuel 22:1 “And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: 2 And he said, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; who savesme from violence. 4 I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.” David was careful to give God ALL THE GLORY for the victories! You won’t have to do it all, but if you’ll start, God will make a way, and He will do what you can’t and He will finish what He has begun….
Let me give you five reasons people don’t finish well….(they all start with “P”)
No Purpose, No Plan, No Preparation, No Push, and No Perseverance…. Satan doesn’t mind folks who make a great beginning, but when they get focused on the finish line and the outcome, they know God has available, and won’t quit…. That’s when he knows he’s in trouble…
God gives all of us opportunity to conquer and win the victory but it requires perseverance, commitment, and consistency in our lives….Jesus came to guarantee that you can win this…. Our God has said that He was the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He not only gives us grace to start but He gives favor to finish.
At the Mexico City Olympic Games, a runner from Africa fell and was injured, during the marathon race but continued to run. Long after the winners received their medals and the crowd was gone, this runner limped on toward the finish line. A news reporter stayed until the injured runner
hobbled across the finish line. He approached the runner and said “You didn’t have to do this. Why put yourself through it all when there was no chance to win anything?” The African runner answered through his pain and discomfort, “My country didn’t send me here to just start the race, they sent me here to finish.” Church, We were not brought into the kingdom just to have a great beginning, but to finish the race set before us!
Deuteronomy 33:25 says “as your days are, so shall your strength be”. In Christ, your strength will always be enough for your need. Your strength will match what you’re up against. You may be limping, but you can still finish! It’s not enough to believe that God can, but you must believe that He will!!!
One guy heard a message from his pastor about finishing what you started. He said that so far, when he got home that Sunday, he finished two bags of chips, a pint of ice cream, and a chocolate cake. He said that he felt much better after finishing what he started…..(I do believe he missed the point)
The church was birthed in struggle and conflict.… and war produces its own Generals and heroes rise to the occasion. Jesus said “I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” His church has always found itself in the midst of battle! And it won’t stop until we are raptured!
King Saul and Adam and Eve, found out that It is dangerous to be engaged in battle (Which we are daily) and not stay in the battle till it is finished. If you are going to start a fight, you keep fighting until you get victory...King Saul never conquered his personal demons and the strongholds in his life, and it came back to destroy him. Much of God's army today is like Saul's army. They're waiting for a David to come along and deal with their devils. They are looking for God to do something to them but not through them!
While one pastor was giving his sermon, a large plant
fell off the platform and crashed right in front of the pulpit, making a loud noise as it came crashing to the floor. Raising his eyebrows, the pastor said, "Well, that’s the first time I have everpreached a plant to sleep."
JUST OVERCOMING THE PROBLEM AT HAND IS NOT TOTAL VICTORY. GOD’S DEFINITION OF VICTORY IS REACHING YOUR POTENTIAL. Our potential is all that we are capable of in business, or in church, or in marriage or family and our personal lives… The purpose of Strongholds in our lives is to keep us from our potential. Is there anyone here who has reached your full potential?….. That potential for each one of us is different. If you’re a hand then your potential is different than the foot… the ear has a different potential than the eye, and so on….So reaching your full potential is what your unique, personalvictory is all about….If you begin to compare yourself with others in their progress, then you’re missing your own personal victory!
Martin Luther King Jr. said “If a man is called to be a street-sweeper, he should sweep streets like Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well”.
Sometimes, The Real Battle is After the Battle….The price of freedom is vigilance. For this reason, Israel was given the promised land "little by little"...
Exodus 23:28-30 – “I will send the hornets ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. v29 But I will not drive them out all at once, because the land would become desolate and the wild beasts become too numerous for you. v30 Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have become strong enough to take possession of the land.”
Strongholds want to desolate your potential. When you've cut offthe power and authority of the enemy, strongholds are broken, the strongman is bound, and then, you can take back what he’s stolen! Jesus said that "the gates of hell shall NOT prevail..." But then, you can't linger in that victory because there are more giants that MUST be conquered. The bible says we go from victory to victory or faith to faith. That’s about vigilance!
The world may call it a predisposition, but God’s word calls it a stronghold…. Some folks have a stronghold, of never finishing what they start…. They are constantly changing jobs, starting projects they never finish. Marriages, relationships, promises they make, and projects they start are like revolving doors to them….Their lives are a cluttered pile of undone things….that is constantly robbing them of their potential….
But the news flash is, it’s not how you start in life or even where you are now, but how you finish in life that’s more important..
Mother Theresa was faced with daily challenges as she ministered to the thousands of poor and abandoned in Calcutta, so it was that those who assisted her, were constantly coming to her with another “problem”…. One day she called them all together and said, “From now on we are not to use the word “problem”, but instead we will say “gift”, because the challenge is to discover the hidden gift within the opportunity presented to us….The gift is there in the problem, we just need to open it, discover it and praise the Lord for it”.
A shopkeeper was troubled and worried, when a brand newbusiness with the same merchandise as his own, opened up next door and erected a huge sign which read 15% off all merchandise. He was horrified when another competitor opened up on his right, and announced his arrival with an even larger sign, reading 25% off all merchandise. The shopkeeper began to panick, until he got an idea. He put the biggest sign of all over his own shop and It read...
“Main entrance”. Child of God, don’t quit, God will make a way, when there seems to be no way!!!
Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint (fail to finish) in your mind”…..
Remember: the REAL battle zone is in your thought life, so open up your mind and let the sun shine in!!! The secret is to catch the enemy when he attempts to slip into your thought life like the serpent in the garden. Don’t let the thought take hold. For this reason Paul says one of our primary weapons is the power to inspect and take thoughts captive as they enter your mind. We need to See this…. fainting or failure to finish, takes place in the mind. You may just need to get out of your own head. You won’t be able to think your way out of a problem that is caused by overthinking the problem to begin with. Sometimes you just need to walk away or it will turn and bite you. Adam and Eve should have walked away, because we all got bit….They let the serpent get into their head….It gives an interesting twist to the scripture…”as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”….When the Apostle Paul talks to the Hebrews about fainting in your mind, he's talking about coming to a place where you think there is no way out, so if you think there is no way out it becomes true for you, or you think that you can't go any further, so if you think you can’t, you probably won’t.
God Is For Us…..If you get out of your mind and into the mind of Christ, you can always take one more step, and keep going, and God will sustain you. You’ll never come to a hill where you won’t have the strength to climb it. You will never come to an obstacle you can’t get over. You will never get to a door that can’t be opened, unless God has a better one for you!
Our God is not only with us and in us but He is for us. If God is For us, who or what can stand against us….!!! He is for your healing, your freedom, your full potential… Jesus came to guarantee that we could tear down strongholds in any area of our life… God is not only interested in winning the battle but winning the battle after the battle. If we win but never change, then God doesn’t see that as a victory. He is more interested in transforming us, because to Him, that’s the biggest victory of all!
A Stronghold is the battle within…. A stronghold of Satan is a cycle or pattern which keeps reoccurring that keeps you in guilt, condemnation and defeat. It is behavior or actions that refuse to leave and It isn't there for any beneficial purpose. Deep in your heart you know you need to change, but the cycle keeps repeating, so you accept it as just the way things are.
The word “Recession” means that you have given in and decided to just live with it….It may be lust, a critical nature, self-consciousness that keeps you from being free, fear, shyness and intimidation, or condemnation from the past. And it only surrenders when Christ's power is exerted against it. Strongholds manifest in the form of worry, unhealthy thoughts, obsessivedesires, paranoia, internal heaviness, or depression.
It’s kind of like sucking on a lemon, the results is always more sour that you thought at first. It’s only intent is to afflict, harass, burden, and keep you from your higher purpose and calling. But take courage and know this, strongholds can be broken! "Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!" In Philippians 1:6 it says He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.
Recognize your delegated authority. Remember, the Greek word isExusia… Which is operating in authority bestowed upon us from a greater power.
The primary principle, for Believers breaking strongholds is recognizing your authority to do so. Christ has granted you power to defeat every enemy that would try to operate in your life. This is what the scripture means when it says, “I can do all things through Christ (Exusia) which strengthens me.”
In the book, “Weapons of Your Warfare” the author wrote: “It's . . . your authority to stand up and declare that the spiritual powers of darkness will not lord over your life. They won't rule you. They won't govern your behavior. They won't govern your thought life. They won't pull you into sin. As a believer in Jesus Christ it's in your power and authority to stand and say, "Jesus is Lord here."
Amen! Ungodly habits shouldn't govern you; temptations shouldn't control you; an inferiority complex doesn't have to dominate you; fear and worry shouldn't master you. The lordship of our life belongs to Jesus Christ and when we trust and submit to that lordship victory is secured. If this principal isn't understood all the hope in the world won't budge a stronghold….That's what Jesus is showing us in our text.
Look at Mark 3:27 "no one can enter the strong man's house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house." None of this becomes our personal reality if it has not become part of our core values! Satan wants to pollute and violate our core beliefs, but we have to affirm Christ's lordship and declare "Yes" and "Amen" to God's promises in order to walk in transformation. Every thought that hits you needs to be countered by another thought! Lies need to be answered with TRUTH. You need a proclamation in your mouth—there is an “IT IS WRITTEN!” for every battle. We affirm the lordship of Christ over our circumstances? We declare, “Jesus in me, is stronger than the strong man”! He's the resurrection and the life! Jesus breaks every fetter! He sets the captives free….it has to be more than a slogan or a memorized recitation! We declare, “He's the Captain of my salvation….That means darkness becomes light before Him and the winds and waves are quelled at His command”? He changes times and seasons and the powers of life and death are in His hands!
Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might”. Scripture talks about death, burial and resurrection. Don’t give up, don’t quit, it may be Friday, but Sunday is on it’s way….. Resurrection is coming.! We all will die, but the question is, will you die in faith? Will you go out of here still praising, still rejoicing, still worshiping the Alpha and Omega! Someone said, “My electric bill is so high, that when I die, I’m concerned that they will turn off the light at the end of the tunnel”
Goliath wasn't defeated when the stone sank into his forehead….he lost before David retrieved one stone from the brook. David conquered Goliath when he understood God's covenant of deliverance and believed it. David battled with the word before he ever released the stone! I wonder if David didn’t run towards Goliath, so that no doubt wouldn’t have a chance to catch up to him!
Faith Knows….. Many Christians believe, rather generically, that God is greater, but when facing a mountain of impossibility,something in the pit of their stomach doesn't agree with what is in their core and they become divided and double minded. In conversations they speak of God's power to deliver, in Church they can sing of His omnipotence, but they don’t apply it on the battlefield. Recognize your authority, believe God and march toward your stronghold like David towards Goliath. Faith isn’t just belief, it is knowledge. FAITH THAT IS SATURATED WITH THE WORD, KNOWS! It isn't ignorant and it isn’t blind.
Hebrews 11:3 simply says, "By faith we understand." Faith understands; it knows. You may not know God's entire plan but you know His Word and His Word won't return void. Think about this: The Israelite army had plenty of faith, it was just misappropriated. Their faith focused on the wrong thing, it focused on Goliath. Israel believed Goliath was invincible! As a result, it became a dominating stronghold, and they were paralyzed with fear. Every time Goliath defied Saul's troops, Israel cowered and ran. That's what misappropriated faith does. It paralyzes your march against the enemy.
There is a story about a seminary professor that drove into the campus parking lot. Before getting out he applied "the club" to his steering wheel. He then stepped out, locked his doors, and then activated his alarm system. A student saw what happened and said: "Doctor, don't you believe in the sovereignty of God to protect your vehicle?" The professor replied, "Son, you know I teach the sovereignty of God. But I also believe in the total depravity of man to put God’s sovereignty to the test!"
The Bible says: "resist the devil and he will flee from you." And that's exactly what 1 Samuel 17:40 says happened: "he took the rod in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, he hurried toward the Philistine” . David figured that if the stone didn’t work, he would hit Goliath in the knee with his rod!
But David shoved Goliath's words right back down his throat and told him he would feed him to the vultures. Then he loaded his slingshot and with one shot sank the stone between Goliath's eyes. When David brought down the stronghold that Goliath represented, it changed his entire future direction….
Let’s give the Lord the final say on the things you’re struggling with in your life! Let your faith get stirred up, and start marching into your potential.
He is the victorious One and He has given us the keys! Jesus has bound the strong man! He sets the captives free. He breaks down every stronghold! He’s the author and finisher, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. If the battle is the Lord’s, we can keep on winning and never retreat and, never, never, nevergive up! It’s not only about finishing but it’s about finishing well!
Every fisherman studies the skies to see what the day will be like. The good news is that for the child of God, there are clear skies ahead, as we walk in the Word, stand in authority, and take it to the enemy through the power of Christ in us! Our God will always make a way…..
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, v2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Our Lord is a water walker and He will lift us out of every stronghold, still the storm and give us clear skies ahead. Let Him lead you out of every stronghold as you submit and surrender to Him….
Since love is the theme today and the coming week…..I came across a “very repentant Dear John” letter….. it went like this, “Dear John, I have been unable to sleep since I broke off our engagement. It is my constant prayer that you will be able to forgive and forget? Your absence just is breaking my heart in two. I was a fool to do that to you. I now know that nobody can take your place. I love you….. All my love, with hundreds ofhugs and kisses, Belinda.
P.S. I want to Congratulate you on winning this week's lottery…… (money just made old John irresistible)
message today is “This Is Love”… (So, Happy Valentine’s Day, a little bit early…)
Jesus is heaven’s Valentine to all of us……another John, John the beloved, wrote to the church, 2 John 1:5 “And now I beseech you, it is not as though I am writing a new commandment unto you, but this is what we have received from the beginning, that we love one another. v6 And this is love, that we walk according to His words”.
For the Jewish people, the She-ma, is their most basic confession of faith. Every devout Jew repeats the She-ma twice each day.
The She-ma is Deuteronomy 6:4-5 "Listen, Oh Israel, The Lord our God, is One God. You shall Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."
God begins where man finds his farthest limits, and this is certainly true of the exceeding, abundant, incomprehensible, overwhelming, unexplainable Love of God in Christ which He isalways freely giving to us.
The Greek word "Pathos", means to feel or experience emotions, and If we could total up all the deepest feelings of love which we have ever experienced in our entire lives, it would fall so far short of the infinite love which God has for us. It would be like comparing a speck of dust to the entire volume of the universe. Last week we talked about the whosoevers in John 3:16: ”ForGod so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This verse is a tiny window which peeks into a love that is infinite, indescribable, indefinable and uncontainable.
In Leviticus 19:18, God instructed His people, " . . . love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord your God”. This commandment was not something new to them. It was as old as Judaism itself. God was laying the foundation which was to be the glue of a new society of people. The adhesive for a new culture which would touch the world.
This is foundation building and it is what God was doing in Ephesians. This God kind of love was to be the foundation of the Christian community world wide…. We are told in Ephesians 3:16 That Christ would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man. v17 That He may dwell in your hearts by faith and that you might be rooted and grounded in love, v18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; v19 Of the love of Christ, which passes all knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God”.
Transformation always comes before implementation. Godwants to change us before He uses us. Love is a commandmentto be not just a commandment to do. You cannot manipulate anyone into loving someone else. Love must emanate from who we are, and who Christ has made us to be. If we love as He loves us, it will manifest itself through all we say and do. That's why love is an undeniable mark of God’s imprint upon us, it is authentic Christianity.
People tell me, “Pastor, I am praying for God’s will for my life” Well, I’ve got your answer…. He says, Love one another as I have loved you!!!
God gave His one and only Son (which actually was God giving Himself) in exchange for us. Imagine giving up one of your children to die for someone you loved…it would be hard right? most of us couldn’t do it. But imagine giving up your child to die for someone who has wronged you in every possible way, who is contrary to your very nature. We could certainly never let our child go through all that pain and suffering for someone like that. Someone who isn’t even close to deserving this sacrifice. And yet God did it. Why?…because God is love. It had nothing to do with what we could do, but what HE has already done in Himself.
We are told in scripture that this love never fails because God cannot fail.
1 Corinthians 13:8 Love never fails, but where there areprophecies, they shall fail; where there are tongues, they shall cease; where there is knowledge, it shall vanish away. v9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. v10 But when that which is perfect is come, (that’s His perfect love) then that which is in part (that’s carnal love) shall be done away with”.
Bill and Steve were discussing their experiences with love. Bill says. "I thought I was in love three times," Steve asks. "What do you mean?"
"Well, Three years ago, I cared very deeply for a woman who wanted nothing to do with me," Bill says. "Wasn't that love?" Steve asks.
"No, that was obsession,"……"Then two years ago, I cared very deeply for an attractive woman who didn't understand me." "Wasn't that love?" Steve asked.
"No, that was lust,"…… "And just last year, I met a woman while I was on a to cruise to Italy. She was gorgeous, intelligent, a great conversationalist and had a great sense of humor. Everywhere I followed her on that ship, I would get this very strange sensation in the pit of my stomach." So Steve said "Well, it sounds like you finally found love?" …."No, It turned out to bemotion sickness!" (You better be able to tell love from motion sickness)……And the hunt goes on!
The love of God is multi-dimensional. Because of the Eternal dimension of God’s love, it can never be identified or summed up by any one moment of time and space in our limited experiences. It goes far beyond any moment and experience of time. It’s the ultimate, all-purpose, universal love. (one size fits all)
This is exactly what Ephesians 3:20 describes when it says… “that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above and beyond all that we ask or think, according to His power that is now working in us”. Whatever we ask, it is beyond that…whatever we can think or imagine, it is beyond that. It’s the love you always dreamed of!
1 Peter 4:8 “Love covers a multitude of sins”….
In computer language, that’s called “history restore”. There is a program in my computer that will allow me to go back in my history and restore it to a point when everything was working right. This means that by using this feature, you can reset life issues, to a time when everything was working at it’s very best, without the mistakes, or errors and flaws of the present. God’s love is a “History Restore” love, His love can redeem and restorewhat the process of time has messed up! He also promises us an ultimate History Restore which is explained as a time when limits will be removed, and God’s unrestrained love will be seen in it’sutimate redemptive nature. We get a glimpse of what the next level of redemption looks like….
Revelation 21:1-7 “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."
God’s Love is like throwing a stone in a pond, it has a small point of entry, just a seed planted in Mary’s womb, but it’s effects are huge!!!
Love isn’t love until it is love in action… God’s love acted before there was any return or any reciprocation on that love. When love acts, it’s ripples go out further and further….until it touches everything in your life and everyone in your life….The tragedy is that so many live their entire life without experiencing personally, this amazing love of God...
A young lady visited a computer dating service and told them, "I'm looking for a spouse. Can you please help me to find a suitable one?"
The matchmaker said, “Just input exactly who you are you looking for" So she described that person, “He needs to be good looking, polite, humorous, sporty, knowledgeable, good at singing and dancing. Willing to accompany me the whole day at home if I don't go out. Be able to tell me interesting stories when I need a companion for conversation and be silent when I want to rest." The computer processed the information computer and, in a matter of moments, gave the results to the woman. The results read, "Buy a television set, it’s everything you described." (The bible is better than a dating service)
Jeremiah 31:3 "The Lord appeared of old unto me, saying, I have loved you with an everlasting (“neh'-tsakh") love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn you" I found out that You can never translate that Hebrew word “neh'-tsakh" or everlasting, into English. It means that you have come into the spaceless, boundless mysterious realm….. you have left the realm of time to where time is no more in order to measure the unmeasurable.
You have gone out into that mysterious place, so profound thatnothing can be taken hold of as we have always known it, it is all beyond you, beyond your grasp, beyond your calculation, beyond your power to cope with it and bring it into some kind of manageable, understandable dimensions.
It is beyond you, beyond your time, beyond your world, beyond all your ways of thinking and working. "I have loved you with an everlasting, timeless, inexpressible love." The phrase “Jehovah appeared of old unto me"? is actually, "from afar, He hasappeared unto me" - outside of our world altogether. He says, "I have loved you with a love altogether outside your dimensions of time and space."
Strangely, the double use of the word "love" here adds an extra feature or factor. “I have loved you with an everlasting love”….
The second time love is used here, is in the feminine, and it means mother-love. Or,"I have loved you with an everlasting mother-love." Now, mother-love is one of the most mysterious things which we can know in ordinary human life. You cannot always understand the scope of mother-love. A mother literally feels she is part of that child because that child was part of her and came out of her. A father may hold a child but a mother has held the child within herself. *…..Jesus said, John 17:21 “That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in me, and I in You, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that You have sent me. v22 And the glory which You have given Me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one. v23 I in them, and You in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have loved them, as You have loved Me.
You may look at a baby and you may not see much that is lovely about the child, but the mother of that child simply adores it, thinks it’s beautiful and sees it’s full potential. That is mother-love. That is the word the Lord is using here. The world would look at us and see everything to the contrary - but the Lord says, "I have loved you with an everlasting mother-love." God’s mother-love can bring you to your full potential and bring you to your destiny.
Listen, If God had a Frig, our picture would be on it….When God tells us that He has loved us with an everlasting love, He is saying that He cannot imagine eternity without us. This same holy, majestic, God, whose love is so vast that the world cannot contain it all, can’t see Himself without us !” He’s counting down the days and has it marked on His calendar to the very hour and minute when He gets to hold us in His arms. That’s why God desires so, so much, to be in a personal relationship with us now. It is an incredible adventure to be the object and the recipient of the majesty of a divine lover’s heart.
Christianity is not what you know, it is Who you know and when you know Him it revolutionizes everything you thought you knew.There is nothing we can do that would make Him love us more. There is also nothing we can do that would make Him love us less. He loves us, because He loves us, because He loves us, because He loves us, because He loves us because that is what He is like, it is who He is. Know, that He will love us outrageously all the days of our life with His crazy love that sometimes doesn’t even make sense!…
God will take us only as far as we are willing to go! Strangely enough, with all this love so available at all times in every way, many have only been able to find the love of God through the dark path of suffering – it is there, that they discover that God was not their enemy but their friend. Scripture tells us that he makes the darkness light for us.
Behind, underneath and throughout the universe, behind the reason, the plan, the design….. they find God’s heart and everything else exists as an answer to that heart.
May God Himself bring that home to us with something of its glory and its wonder….. As He does, we will be worshippers for the rest of our lives; there will be something about us that is in a constant state of awe and amazement and we wll go forward,treading softly on this holy ground. The realization of it will smite all our pride to the dust. There is no room for bitterness, covetousness, self-interest, or worldly ambition - and we shall be very humble, very grateful people, full of a great longing somehow to return that love. This has been the motive and passion of many who have experienced His love, A deep yearning to return and spread this Love - with which He has freely loved us.
When you’re right with God You’re more likely to be right withlove….
A college senior took his girlfriend to a football game. She had been hoping and praying that he would pop the question…They found some good seats in the crowded stadium and were watching the action. A substitute was put into the game, and as he was running onto the field to take his position, the guy said to his girlfriend, "Take a good look at that fellow. I expect him to be our best man next year." His girlfriend snuggled up closer to him and said, "That's the strangest way I have ever heard for a fellow to propose to a girl. But regardless of how you said it, I accept."(whether he meant it or not, he is now engaged)
When we are right with God we will Love verbally (We’ll say it, and show it)…..We will love physically (touching, hugging, and assuring) …..We will love patiently, (because love takes time and love puts a demand upon the heart to respond and sometimes it takes time)…..We will Love attentively (when you give someone your attention, it translates into “ you’re important, I care about you, I love you")…. We will Love gratefully (I have a debt of love, and the God kind of love can never be repaid because I can never love at the level of God’s love )….. We will Love generously (love multiplies by the degree that you love) When we love correctly, then the Lord causes it to be full measure, pressed down, shaken down and running over shall others give unto you…..
The power of God’s love is transformative. God’s love will never leave you like He found you, He knows the blueprint for your life when He made you, and He knows you better than you know yourself!!
Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” God wants us to receive and then reflect His love until He can see Himself looking through our eyes. Then it’s time…. time to go back and reach out to the very people that hurt us the most. Love sees them as the victims, not the villains. It’s Time to live life on the offensive. Time to go back and pray forthem like we’ve never prayed before. Time to believe for those who perhaps can’t believe for themselves. Time to hope for those who have no hope. And time to love those who can seem unlovable or even incapable of loving themselves or others.
God forgives, so we’ve forgiven them. There is no more hate or ill will. No more anger. The unhealthy, toxic cord has been severed, and we have placed them in God’s hands and let go, Our greatest desire is that they would find the same hope that we have found. We have prayed for restoration, but we also know, in many cases, it will take time and we know, that the clock of restoration and transformation is ticking!!!
There was a man who didn’t believe in God, and it was on a snowy Christmas Eve, that his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service and she asked him to come, but he refused. “That story is nonsense!” he said. “Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That’s ridiculous!” So she and the children left, and he stayed home. It began to snow and the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn’t see more than a few feet. When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside…
In the field next to his house he saw a flock of wild geese. He felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It’s warm and safe, they could spend the night and wait out the storm.
So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. The man tried to herd them in, but that just seemed toscare them and they moved further away. He realized that they just to follow a human. He thought, “If only I were a goose, then I could save them,”.
He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around until he was behind the flock of wild geese.
He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn–and one by one the other geese followed it to safety. Suddenly everything his wife had been telling him made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese….blind, lost, perishing. God had His Son to become like one of us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of the birth of Christ, he saw it now!
He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer: As God’s great love embraced him….“Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm I have been in! As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet.Suddenly he understood why Christ came as a man. Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm.
Perhaps, God’s love could be compared to the air we breathe, without it, there could not be life. Just as we take air for granted, so likewise, we so often take God’s love for granted, because it is always there, always reaching, always touching our lives. If we could hear His audible voice, perhaps He would be saying….”Iam always available and accessible to you. I love you. I always want to talk with you. You are My delight, My creation, the desire of My heart. You bring such pleasure and delight to My soul. I want you to walk in My love all the time, not just for a few minutes every day or when you think you can find some time or when you are desperate because of some challenges you are facing.
I know the bible is God’s letter to us but If we got a Valentine’s letter from the Lord, I think He would be saying something like this……
“I have told you before that I will never leave you or forsake you. You are never out of My mind, you are never out of My sight. No matter where you go, how you act, what you do, I still love you. Even though you are not able or ready to comprehend My love, I yearn for you to connect with Me. I wait patiently every day, throughout the day, every moment for you to sense My presence. I yearn for the time when you shall truly know as you are known of Me. I am more excited than you could ever be, whenever you get even a fleeting glimpse of the depth of my love for you”.
”I will never withhold Myself from you. The more you come to Me, in sincerity, trying to connect with Me, the more I will open Myself to you. So I am looking forward to the eternity we are going to spend together, when we can indeed “walk and talk as good friends should and can do.” I desire to fill up your whole being with a sense of who I am. As you know Me more, you will come to terms with the life I have let unfold for you, and discover My strength in your weaknesses.
”As you reflect my presence more and more, You will come into a greater wholeness and completeness which I designed for you.You have not begun to imagine, what could be and what will be if you allow Me to live My life through you. So just breathe in Mylove, and know that you are immersed and surrounded in Mylove, even when you don’t feel it. My love is right there surrounding and embracing you…..You are an expression of that love, with skin on, to touch, to care, to show and to tell it, everywhere at all times”!
Would you find someone and tell them, I am a physical expression of God’s love to you….. He loves you and I love you…..
The Scripture tells us that we have received a commandment to bless, so would you turn to someone as we speak together the blessing……
May the Lord bless you and keep you, in safety and in health and sufficiency.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and bring contentment and fulfillment.
May the Lord be gracious unto you, in your going out and your coming in. In your rising up and your lying down.
In all that you put forth your hand to do. In your savings and your investments. In your planning and carrying forth your plans.
May the Lord cause His presence to make a difference, in your home, on your job, in your labor and your leisure.
May He give you peace, joy and love that has no end.
Billy was a young boy who rode the bus to church each Sunday, and he was from the low income project, and he looked forward all week to coming to church. Billy loved the Pastor because it was the pastor that first came to their home and invited Billy to come to their church, and he was there every Sunday morning. When church service had ended and before the bus left, Billy would run to the foyer of the church where Pastor would be greeting folks and he would scan the crowd until he saw his friend, the Pastor. Once he had zeroed in on his target, Billy would run over, wrap his little arms around Pastor's leg, squeeze tightly and look up and say, "Preacher, we're friends ain't we?" The Pastor would lovingly pat Billy on top of his tousled head and say, "You betcha Billy. We're best friends!" Billy would grin from ear to ear and head for the back doors of the church where his bus waited to take him back to the squalor and uncertainty he escaped from once a week when he came to see his "best friend".
Then came the Sunday morning when Billy made his regular trip into the foyer of the sanctuary, but this time it was different. There were tearstains streaking little Billy's cheeks as he wrapped those little arms around Pastors leg. As usual, Billy asked the question and as usual, Pastor answered. Then Pastor noticed the tracks of Billy's tears and he inquired, "What's the matter Billy, you've been crying?" Billy responded with fresh tears welling up in his eyes, "Preacher, when I left home this morning my mommy told me I was never gonna get to come here again. You see, Preacher, we're leavin' and I ain'tnever gonna come back! You're my best friend and I'm gonna miss ya!"
Pastor smiled as kindly as he knew how and told Billy, "Now don't you worry Billy. You'll find you a new friend where you're going. You'll be fine." He then patted Billy on the head and walked away to greet all of the new visitors.
Billy stood there for a minute or two, watching the Pastor. Then he turned and with a fresh flood of tears flowing down his face Billy headed toward the back door, then he stopped, turned back, and looked down the corridor one last time and called out to the pastor, "Preacher, don’t you understand? We're best friends and I'm leavin' today and I’m never going to be ableto come back! Ain't you even gonna cry?" Then Billy went out the back door and boarded his bus, never, ever to return and No One Cried but Billy!
Wow, and no one cried but Billy!!!
John 12:46 “I am come as a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not remain in darkness. v47 And if any man hears my words, and does not believe, I do not judge him, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world”.
Notice that this statement is addressed to “whosoever” and to “any man”….
If you put it together you have “any whosoever”….Jesus is describing who He came for and who was still missing, that He came to seek and to find….. Do you know them, have you met them recently?
It’s a lot like the bible version of “WHERE’S WALLY”…..Jesus is addressing the religious leaders and His own disciples here and asking them if they have missed what it was all about….In their searching, had they missed the most important thing?He was drawing their attention to who was missing from the gathering that day…. (Is there “any whosoever” who is not here?) Jesus is asking, “Who is the “ANY WHOSOEVER” in your world”? Have you seen them in the grocery store or begging on the street or living next door to you or cleaning your teeth at the dentist, or grooming your dog or teaching your children or living next to you for the last 10 years?Have you seen “any whosoever”?....Have you missed them in the kingdom of God?… “WHERE’S WALLY”?
A few years back, I was called by a friend to join him on Big Pine, at the sight of a hit and run where a man who was a son, a father and a friend was killed. I followed my friend’s car and when we got to the spot, there was still blood in the street that marked the spot, and all the family and friends were just standing around. It was a spontaneous gathering and when they found out that I was a pastor, I was asked to say something fitting to the situation…. These folks were the “Any Whosoever” that Jesus was talking about and I saw that this was an opportunity that He had given, to find some of the missing “WHO-SO-EVERS” from the kingdom that night. The blood in the street was crying out…. “Do you miss me?”…. I had come for the victim of the hit and run, but I realized that it was the “Who-so-evers” I had really come for! I was there to find the missing….
Have we gone to our workplace, or driven through our neighborhood, or gone out to eat with the question on our heart, “are there any missing Who-so-evers here that I am chosen to find for the kingdom? Whosoever is used throughout the New Testament 93 times, and describes anyone and everyone. You are an anyone, I am an anyone, it is an all-inclusive term, and leaves no one out. Anyone and everyone that hears come. Anyone and everyone that thirsts come. Anyone and everyone that wants freedom from fear and an uncertain eternity, come .
I don’t know about your house, but I know that who-so-ever lived at my home, growing up, and still does…. My mom was always talking to Whosoever…. “Whoever made this mess, better clean it up…. Whoever broke that, better get busy confessing…. Whoever was supposed to wash the dishes, better get those dishes done!!! And now I’m married and my mom and my wife must have had a talk, because she does the same thing even though I’m the only other person there!!!! Listen, I know Who-so-ever on a personal basis!
The search is on….We need to find these Who-so-evers, because God used one of them, to build the Ark, his name was Noah…. He used another one, to bring his people out of Egyptian bondage, his name was Moses…..and how about that Who-so-ever, who was an idol maker but was chosen of God to be the “Father of the Faith” known as Abraham…..I can’t help but wonder what God has planned for all those who-so-evers that are still missing…..
I recall my son Chris, who was about 3 years old and was upset because he couldn’t do something…. He came out with a little backpack he had put some clothes in and got ready to head out… but first he turned and announced…. “I’m going to runnedaway, and get myself lost! WILL YOU MISS ME”?Well, Chris didn’t run away, because we let him know that he would be terribly missed…. We all need to let “whosoever, know that they are terribly missed in our lives, and they have a special place in the heart and plan of God…..
There’s something supernatural about everywhere you are…..You may not feel that your job is supernatural, or that you are supernaturally in the family you’re in, or that your have been supernaturally placed in the neighborhood you’re in….I’m thinking of the young lady who hit my car in a New England blizzard… I told her that God had brought us together, led her to the Lord, and she became a missionary… A rebellious young man who was ready to punch me out, I led him to the Lord, and he became a college campus director, planting Christian clubs in colleges around the country…. I’m thinking of a young military man that I encouraged to go to Rhema, who is a youth pastor, another young man who is an evangelist, traveling here and overseas…… Some of God’s whosoevers!
You see, God has supernaturally appointed you in theplaces you are, to reach the next missing whosoever, who is the next Reinhart Bonkey, or the next Billy Graham, or Pat Robertson, or John Kilpatrick, of Joel Osteen….
I recall the story of a young college exchange student who felt compelled to go out into her neighborhood and find some of God’s missing who-so-evers. She heard someone groaning and went into an empty, dark basement that had the stench of death, and found a young man, lying on a cot, just skin and bones, dying in the last stages of Tuberculosis… She shared the gospel with him, prayed with him to receive Christ, then prayed for his healing. That young man was saved and healed and was raised up to shake Korea with the gospel. His *…..name is Dr. Paul Yongi Cho who was used by God to build the largest full gospel church in the entire world… Just think about it, that young lady will receive a reward for everything Dr. Cho accomplished!
JOHN 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him would have eternal life”…
The huge difference in Christianity and all other religious systems, is that the one who asks us to follow him, paid the price to make it possible. Every other religious system makes demands that no one can measure up to and there is something the follower has to do in a never ending attempt to measure up but can never succeed. Scripture tells us “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”….How amazing, that knowing this, Jesus paid the price, understanding that we would never be able to!
The question has been asked….What if JOHN 3:16 IS NOT TRUE?..... Roger Campbell said that if God had not loved the world, “Our world would be a dark, lifeless planet, hurtling through space without hope. There would be nothing to live for and no purpose for existence. It would be a world where prayers were but useless cries into the skies. Every death would be the end of personal hope and every grave a place of final and ultimate despair.”
But the truth is that every one of us here, are living, breathing evidence of the amazing love of our amazing God!
We need to discover that God’s “What-so-ever” is connected to His “Who-so-ever”….When we begin to get a heart for the Father’s missing who-so-evers, amazing miracles will happen….
Matthew 25:40 For surely I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, youhave done it unto me.
Can we say that in a little different way…?
”As you have done “whatsoever”, to the least of the “Whosoevers”, you have done it unto Me.” But don’t stop there…let’s read on…
This is where it starts getting really good!!!!
Matthew 6:4 “When your alms (“whatsoever”) is done to (“whosoever”) in secret, Your Father which sees in secret Himself shall reward
Tony Campolo received an invitation to speak at a woman’s conference. Before the president of the conference introduced him as their guest speaker, she read a very moving letter from a missionary who was calling out for help in response to a great need on the mission field that required thousands of dollars. To Tony this missionary was just a who-so-ever, but they were God’s appointed who-so-ever!
When the president of the conference then turned to Tony Campolo and asked him if he would pray that God would provide the resources to meet this need! Tony, who is a very outspoken man, said, “No! I won’t pray for the need to be met. I believe that God has already provided the resources, and all we have to do is give it . Then, he challenged each woman in the room to follow his lead, and he placed his money on the table, and after the women had a chance to respond, all the money needed was there!!
We have a God who is serious about bringing all the missing who-so-evers, home to the kingdom, and bringing them into the place and calling He has for them.
Jesus says in Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man (any who-so-ever) will hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me”. He said if anyone will hear my voice….. Let’s hear what He’s saying today…..He knows the answer before we ask the question, He has the solution before we had the problem!!!! He’s knocking, ANSWER THE DOOR!!! The word used here is … or ar-khee….which means a feast….(answer the door and we shall feast) The word ar-khee indicates there is a ruler of the feast, because when there is a feast there is a ruler of the feast! Jesus is saying invite me for a meal and I’ll turn it into a feast for I am the ruler of the feast! It’s not enough just to hear, we need tounderstand…..
I read about a lady who had a hearing problem. One day she and her husband were driving from Tennessee to Arkansas. They were pulled over by a state trooper who asked if the husband knew how fast he was driving. The wife asked, "What did he say?” The husband replied, "HE ASKED IF I KNEW THAT I WAS SPEEDING.” Looking at the driver’s license the trooper said, "I see you’re not from around here.” The husband said, "No we are from Memphis.” The wife again asked, "What did you say?” The husband told her, "I SAID WE ARE FROM MEMPHIS.” The state trooper then commented, "You know, the meanest woman I ever met was from Memphis.” The wife again asked, "What did he say?” The husband replied, "HE SAYS HE THINKS HE KNOWS YOU!"
We need to hear what the Lord is saying!!!
Salvation is not an exclusive thing….. There are no “saved only” public bathrooms…. There are no “saved only” restaurants….(they would go broke) There are no “saved only” beaches (although there would be plenty of room on them if there were)… That day is coming, but now God is operating a “Whosoever will”… arrangement!
If God had offered salvation only to THE RICH? People like you and me would never make it. All you folks who are broke before payday even arrives—
too bad for you!
If God had offered salvation only to THE HEALTHY OR THE FIT? Some of us wouldn’t even have a CHANCE! Get your unfit self to the back of the line
… way back there!!
If God had offered salvation only to good, and righteous, and perfect people? – Then NONE of us would have a shot, and we wouldn’t ever get
a ticket in that game….
Romans 5:8 – “But God commended [showed or demonstrated] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
If we could be good enough, do enough good works, or in any way work out or qualify for our own salvation, then Jesus would not have come…According to the well-known researcher George Barna, 51% of the population believe that "if a person is generally good, or does enough good things for others during their life, they will earn a place in Heaven." But Jesus Himself said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
I think of the demoniac of Gadara who was delivered from a legion of demons and my hope is renewed for all who are oppressed….
I think of the lepers who could not come near because of their condition, and then Jesus touched them and healed them and my hope and faith is renewed….
I think of Peter who knew Christ so well, yet cursed and denied him, yet was the one used to see 5,000 come to Christ on Pentecost and my faith is renewed….
When is the last time you met a rude, vulgure, cussing, mean person and said to them, “Wow, you’re just who God has been looking for. You are in the right place at the right time. Let me share with you what God wants to do for you”!!!
I remember how the Roman soldier in charge of crucifying Jesus, stood in a moment of clarity and declared “Surely this is the Son of God”… and I no longer write anyone off of God’s missing who-so-ever love list!!!
When Jesus died on the cross, there were two of the missing who-so-evers hanging on either side of him. One of them were cursing him right up to their dying breath. Both of them deserved to be there. They were the riffraff of society, common thieves, and apparentlythey were deemed incorrigible or irredeemable by society to be punished by crucifixion. They were men of dishonesty, fraud, deception and led lawless lives. But one of them, said to Jesus in faith, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him: “…Verily I say unto you, Today you shall be with me in paradise.”
If you were to ask the Lord, “who’s still missing today?” He would answer what He always has and always does…. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
And I hear in my mind a father asking Jesus for help with his afflicted son, and he said in Mark 9:22 “If You can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us. v23 And Jesus said unto him, If you can believe, all things are possible to them that believe”.
I understand that this dad was standing in place, or proxy for his son, who was unable to stand for himself…. That’s the role we have today, and we will be faithful in the roll of intercessor, (standing in place of another) knowing that Jesus will say, “I am willing”