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Difficult Verses 3: Revelation 2.4-5 (part I)

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Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.
Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place

 

Revelations 2.4-5 has been used to condemn and beat Christians up.  A lot of verses are!  The carnal nature of man is always looking for hooks of fear and guilt to control other people.  And because we read any information or text through the lens of our mind, we can find whatever we want in the Scripture.  This verse is traditionally used to say: the Ephesian church had a problem, it stopped loving God.  It didn’t love God enough.  It didn’t love Jesus enough.  Therefore, it has fallen, and needs to repent of this lack of love for God and if it doesn’t repent it will lose it’s lampstand.

Then the application is made: you don’t love God enough.  You don’t love God enough.  You need to change and love God more.  If you don’t God is going to kill you – curse you – stop you – hurt you.  And the only way to avoid God ripping apart your lampstand is to love Him more.

There are a lot of problems with the traditional understanding of these verses, and we need to unpack each of them one after the other to create a new lens to see this verse properly.

You see the most common way this verse is used is “get back to loving Jesus the way you did when you first met Him”.  Normally, this is used as an emotional thing: have the same feelings as you did back then.  I can’t disagree more with this understanding of the verse.  I have been married 17 years now, and I love my wife more than I ever have.  When we first met, I was so nervous around her because I fancied her so much, I could barely speak.  That’s great – but you can’t do 17 years of marriage like that!  In the last 17 years, we have had 4 babies, faced the death of loved ones, planted 3 churches, fought false accusations, struggled with different issues and problems.  In all of that our love has matured and grown beyond all measure.  To give that up for an immature, teenage love again would not be a step forward it would be a massive step back!

It’s the same with Jesus.  I love Him more now than 20 years ago when we first met.  Together, we have faced adversities, seen the sick healed, and I have found out more about His grace and goodness than I ever had.  I love Him more now than ever.  It may not be the full rush emotional feeling I had back then, but that’s a sign of maturing not backsliding!  Growing up means realizing that romantic love is more than an orgasm, friendship love is more than going out and getting smashed together, and love for God is more than just a rush.

Last week, Dave Duell was with us at the Tree of Life Network.  He did a men’s breakfast for us.  A guy was prayed for who none of us knew and he started yelling and screaming how much he loved God.  It was loud, it was shocking.  I have nothing against that – but it was not a sign of maturity, it was a sign of starving.  If there is someone who is eating regularly, and I buy them a bacon roll, they will say thanks.  If I buy someone who is starving and who hasn’t eaten for weeks a bacon roll, then they will make a lot of fuss and noise as they eat it and be over the top in their thanksgiving.  It’s not maturity that makes them like that, it’s starvation.  I am not against loud and not against expressiveness, and not against any of that – but there’s more to love than just an emotional experience.  True love is about commitment, loyalty, humility and service; not screaming, shouting and blood rushes.  The guys in that room who are in church every week, in living church every week, serving the church, giving to the church – they weren’t shouting and hollering – their love is grown and mature.

So if that’s what Jesus meant when he said return to your first love, he would be telling us to be more immature.  That doesn’t make sense.

So to find out what forsaken first love means, let’s broaden the search and see what hte Bible says about love.  In Ephesians 3.18 Paul does not pray that the Ephesians would love God more, but that they would know more about God’s love for them.  God doesn’t love us because we love Him – but rather we love Him because He loved us first (1 John 4.19).

So if we only love in response to Him… what then is the FIRST LOVE?  It’s not our love for Him, that comes second.  The first love is His love for us.  The Ephesians were working hard (read Rev. 2.1-7), they were serving God, but they were not serving out of a revelation of His love for them.  That sums up a lot of churches today – doing a lot, but it is not rooted and grounded in His love for us.

And there is only one way to forget and forsake the first love – to mix some law in with the grace.  To pollute the blood of Jesus with the blood of animals.  To stop preaching the good news of the unconditional love of Christ and mix in some rules and regulations with it.  To stop proclaiming His complete work, and start addressing that people need to complete the work with some of their good works.  That is forsaking the first love: that is rejecting the love of God.

That is what the Ephesians needed to repent of.  They didn’t need to get on their faces and try and work up some immature rush of love.  They didn’t need to weep and wail and try and force themselves to love God.  They needed to change their thinking about Christ and Him crucified, and realize that His work is complete because His love is perfect.

You see without that you can do good works, but they are not the works of Christ.  Putting a bandage on a sick person is a good work, healing them is a work of Christ.  Feeding a homeless man is a good work, praying for him and seeing a supernatural job and house appear is a work of Christ.  Counselling is a good work, transformation through the preaching of the Word and seeing people released from addictions and depressions is the work of Christ.  Leadership training is a good work, bearing fruit is the work of Christ.

You can only do the works of Christ with a revelation of the love of God and an understanding of the complete work.  You have to repent from thinking you can or need to add to the complete work of Christ.  You need to return to your first love: His love for you!

If not then the lampstand will be taken!  That’s not a personal verse, it’s a verse to the whole church.  The lampstand was the light in the church.  You see if a whole church forgets the love of God, it will lose it’s light.  Not because God wants to punish a church like that, but because you cannot put new wine in old wineskins.  It doesn’t work… the skin will rip.  You cannot put the new wine of the love of God into the old wineskins of the law and performance.

God’s Marvellous Grace – A Licence to Sin?

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I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. – Jude 1.4

I think if you are a pastor today, or if you go to church today (I know that’s becoming unpopular among some grace people, but church is still God’s plan to change the world), then you will know that this Scripture is true.  People are worming their way into strong, healthy churches, and teaching that God’s grace allows us to live immoral lives.

As a pastor of a grace church, as someone who loves grace, and who has been changed beyond recognition by the truths of God’s grace, I know from bitter experience that people do still think that grace lets you live immoral lives.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  And as pastors, as good shepherds, we need to notice these people as they will infect your church and rip it apart.  I’m not posting this post because I am anti-grace, but because I am pro-grace!  A little yeast will spoil the whole bunch.

Here are three ways in which you can identify that people think that grace gives us a licence to sin:

  1. They think that grace means that they never have to say “sorry”.  There was a film in the 70s which said “Love means never having to say you are sorry” but that simply isn’t true.  If you care about and love people, and your actions hurt them – if your behaviour is rude, selfish, critical and abusive then you should apologize.  You should let that person know that you care about them, that you regret causing them pain and that you value their relationship.  Jesus had a lot to say about making amends with your family, and people who just dismiss the hurt they have caused others with their negative, selfish behaviour really do not understand grace, no matter what their doctrine on the subject.What is ironic here is that you will find out that the people who insist grace means they don’t have to apologize, will be the most thin-skinned when other people are mean or unkind to them.   A pastor who does not realize this will end up with a church full of offended people, sulking people, and hurt people.  Love means you should apologize when you offend and hurt someone due to your selfish behaviour.  2 Tim. 2.24 says the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to all.   Matthew 5.23-24 says So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Jesus thinks that reconciliation with others is more important than worship – so be very wary in dealing with people who never think they need to apologize or make amends for their behaviour.  They will destroy your community.
  2. People use grace as a licence to sin when they believe there should be no consequences to their sin.  Now the most beautiful precious truth of grace is that there is no more penalty for sin.  Jesus is the propitiation (the one who takes the penalty) for sin – not just our sin, but the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2).  There is no more penalty for sin.  You will never be punished for God for your sin.  But sin is still a seed, and seeds will produce harvests.  I had to speak to a young man recently whose girlfriend is pregnant.  He told me “I prayed and prayed that she wouldn’t…” I had to point out that sex is sowing seeds, and seeds produce harvests – in this case, human seeds produce a harvest of a human!  It’s like if you plant apple seeds, don’t bother praying for an orange harvest – it won’t happen.  Sin is sowing seeds of death and they only produce a death harvest.  People who think God’s grace is a licence to sin will always be vocally upset at consequences to sin.  Their marriage is in a mess because they go out get drunk and flirt.  That’s not God judging them, that’s just the consequences to sin.  If you are rude and mean, people will avoid you.  They won’t share their hearts with you.  That’s not God judging you, that’s just the consequences to sin.   People who think grace is a licence to sin will try and avoid the consequences to their sin.  They will never own their sin and own the consequences.  Speeding and parking tickets will be thrown in the bin and ignored, they will never turn up for marriage counselling or debt counselling – they would prefer to moan about their wives and post on Facebook how much money they desperately need.  People who cannot face the consequences to their actions are immature – help them, but don’t build on them and don’t take the consequences for them!
  3. People who think there should be no consequences for sin generally think that means that they should not have to endure the consequences for their sin.  You having to put up with the consequences of their sin does not bother them at all.  Them having to put up with the consequences of sin is all that gets them upset.  So these people will never respect your personal space or fences (if you need some teaching on setting boundaries or fences in your life – or dealing with people like this, http://www.treeoflifeguildford.com/building-fences.html will help you no end), and will invade your life with their problems.They can’t handle being a couple of hundred pounds out of pocket because of their greediness and overspending and lack of self-control, but if they can “borrow” the money off you, then they will not mind you being out of pocket.  And as for saying sorry when they can’t pay you back, see point 1!  If you put up a fence to these people, and refuse to enable them (to use psychological language, refuse to be their co-dependent) then expect a barrage of verbal abuse telling you that you don’t understand grace, that you are legalistic, that you are harsh, mean, selfish.  Grace to these people means that there should be no consequences to their sin; and that people should not put healthy boundaries in their life to protect them from abusive people and anyone who does put a boundary up is accused of being unloving and ungracious.

That is when grace is perverted in my mind, and when I see those three things: an inability to apologize and own wrong doing, an inability to take responsibility for the consequences of actions, and a lack of respect for other people’s personal space and life – then I see an immaturity, a mis-understanding of grace, and I see problems ahead.

Jude’s response to this is to remember that people like this will exist (vv. 18-19).  You should not be surprised at the way some so-called grace Christians can and will act, and how they will try and take advantage of you.

His second piece of advice is “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (vv. 20-21).  In other words, that’s how they behave but you – but you behave in a different way: praying in the Holy Spirit which is speaking in tongues (just as another issue: people who turn the grace of God into a licence to sin often never pray in the Holy Spirit unless they are facing personal dilemmas). You should pray in tongues.  You might be tempted to get annoyed at how other people have treated you: pray in tongues.  You see a so-called mature Christian tell you that apologizing for messing up and losing your temper at someone is the devil: pray in tongues. Someone comes to you and calls you names, insisting you forgive because you are a grace person, but they never do anything to contribute to the relationship or help you in any way: praying in tongues.  Someone is disrespecting your personal life and invading your territory because it is easier on them: pray in tongues.  Pray in tongues!

Secondly: keep yourself in the love of God.  Remember: other people may misuse you, may worm their way into the church and cause trouble.  But you are still loved by God.  Forget that and your response to these grace-twisters may be less than stellar.  You might be the one being rude.  No – remember GOD LOVES YOU.  He adores you.  He loves you.  He cares about you.  He dotes on you.  Keep focused on Him.  Ministry is hard – but Jesus said “Don’t rejoice you have authority over demons, but rejoice that your name is in the Lamb’s book of life”.  In other words, if you rejoice in your effectiveness as a minister – you will have ups and downs.  If you rejoice in God’s love – it’s all up.

Let the people get on with it, set healthy boundaries, speak in tongues loads – build yourself up and discipline yourself to pray in the Spirit, not just when you have a need but because it’s good discipline, training and growth, and don’t treat God’s grace as a licence to sin, but keep yourself in it.  You see the people that take God’s grace and use it as a licence to sin have heard some ideas about God’s grace, some sermons on God’s grace, maybe even gone to a grace church or even a grace Bible College, but they are not keeping themselves in the love, in the grace.  (Mental assent to the doctrines of grace without actually having grace may be the greatest danger to the entire grace movement but that’s another post).

You though – keep yourselves in the love of God.  Meditate on the love, confess and declare the love, memorize Scriptures on the love, act in love, walk in love, love one another.  And pastors and leaders, watch out for people who think grace is a licence to sin and restrict their influence because they will choke the church to death.

Protected by Love (Kenneth Copeland)

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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; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.

– Matthew 5:44-45

Love your enemies…turn the other cheek…to most people that sounds like a pretty weak way to handle somebody who’s causing them trouble. But, the truth is, it’s the most powerful way there is. It’s the way Jesus did it– and His way never fails.

Do you remember when Jesus went back to Nazareth and the religious folks were angry with Him and wanted to push Him off a cliff? What happened? He just walked right past them, and no one could lay a finger on Him. Another time they decided to stone Him, and He didn’t retaliate that time either. He just walked off. No one could touch Him.

When Jesus walked through that crowd, He wasn’t afraid. He knew they couldn’t hurt Him because He was walking in the love of God.

When Jesus said to turn the other cheek, He didn’t mean for you to stand there and have your brains beaten out. He meant for you to stand there in love and in faith believing that the protecting power of God that accompanies that love would keep you safe. He meant for a man to swing at you and not be able to hit you!

The story of Nicky Cruz as recorded in David Wilkerson’s book, The Cross and the Switchblade, is a perfect example of that. Nicky was reputed to be the most ruthless gang leader of his time. Yet, when David Wilkerson stood in front of him, telling him about Jesus, Nicky was totally unable to hurt him. He thrust his knife at David several times. But every time he did, David just said, “Nicky, you can cut me into a thousand pieces and every piece will still say, ‘I love you and God loves you.'” Because of love, Nicky couldn’t get his knife close enough to David to hurt him. A supernatural force always stopped it short.

“But I don’t have that kind of love!”

Yes, you do. Romans 5:5 tells us that the love of God is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit. All you have to do is make the decision to be motivated by that love rather than your own human feelings.

My friend, love never fails! You don’t have to be afraid of failure anymore. In fact, you don’t have to be afraid of anything. If you’re walking in the love of God, you’re living the most powerful kind of life there is.

Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:38-48

An Oxymoron (Ray Comfort)

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“Dear Ray, Why is it so difficult for you to accept the fact of evolution when it has been universally accepted by the scientific community, and 99.99% of people who dedicate their lives to studying it? Why do you refuse to acknowledge that there are many very very serious bible believing Christians who claim to know God but also accept the fact of evolution? Why is it so difficult for you to think that if your God existed, he might be working through science instead of directly violating it? It merely makes the story of Genesis One allegorical, describing man’s relationship with Jehovah rather then a literal account of how the world was made. Why, Ray, why, you constantly attack scientific discourse with a bumptious attitude, yet you do not let us know the real reasons for it, why?” Mojo

Let me deal with your questions one by one. First, I strongly contest your 99.99%. You are saying that only .01% who study evolution don’t believe it. I think you greatly exaggerate your figures. Still, never forget that there was a time when 100 % of the scientific community thought that the earth was flat. The majority must be right is a fallacy. Only God is right all the time.

Second, no Bible “believing” Christian accepts evolution. Such a thought is an oxymoron. To believe evolution means that the “Christian” doesn’t believe the words of Jesus, when He said, “In the beginning God made them male and female” (see Matthew 19:4). To believe that God made mankind through the process of evolution means that you don’t believe Bible.

Here’s a question for you: Why do Darwinian believers insist on hiding behind the cloak of “science,” when their theory isn’t scientific in the slightest? It’s nothing more than a pseudo science–a fairy tale for grownups, believed by the gullible, and created by the imaginations of secular speculators.

Here’s the bottom line: When anyone comes to know God through the new birth (see John 3:3-5), the issue is dead in the water. I can never convince you that Genesis is the truth, but you can know the truth yourself through repentance and trust in Jesus Christ.

If you are interested, read John 8:31-32.

Atheists confuse God with the Bible
When I said to a believer in the theory of evolution, “Your trust is in fallible man. My trust is in infallible God,” other atheistic believers in evolution replied:

“You trust the Bible, which was written, edited, compiled, interpreted, and preached by fallible man. That is all.”

“No. Your trust is also in something you believe happened long ago that was written by fallible men: The Bible. Then you throw in the subjective feelings that you interpret as a personal relationship with an infallible God.”

“You have trust in a book, written by men, assembled and edited and copied by men, none of them even claiming to be infallible.”

These atheists are mixing apples and oranges. God is the Creator. The Bible is a compilation of 66 books. They are two distinct entities. It’s like thinking that President of the United States is the Constitution. One is a written document, the other is the political leader of our country.

Christians of the first few centuries didn’t have a “Bible” as we know it. Most people of that time couldn’t read. The New Testament hadn’t been compiled, and there was no such things as the printing press. Those who were Christians were converted to Christ through the spoken message of the Gospel. They heard that they had violated God’s Law and that because of their crimes against a holy God, they were justly headed for Hell. But they also heard that God was rich in mercy to all that call upon Him, in that He provided a Savior. Jesus of Nazareth had paid the fine so that guilty sinners could have their case dismissed. Those who repented and put their trust in Him alone for their salvation received everlasting life as the gift of God.

They were saved by the power of God not by reading and believing the New Testament. Their trust was in Him, not in the Bible (again, which didn’t exist as we know it nowadays).

The contemporary Christian has the same experience. But we have the added blessing of having an Instruction Book that tells us what we experienced through our conversion, and how to live now that we have come to know God.

Consequentially, you can take the Bible away from me and burn it, or “disprove” it, or ban it, and it won’t change a thing for me because my salvation doesn’t come from believing the Bible, but through trusting in the person of Jesus Christ as my Lord and my Savior. Not even death will separate me from Him (see Romans 8:38-39).

An atheist further wrote, “But of course, as I’ve pointed out, you are not infallible; your trust might be in error.” That would be true, if we were simply dealing with another human being. If you said to me that my trust in my wife is misplaced, I would be upset that you are insulting her integrity. I have a wife who is incredibly faithful, very loving, and extremely honest. Yet, she is still a human being and is therefore subject to human weakness. Not so with God. He is without sin. It is impossible for Him to lie. He keeps every promise He makes. You and I can trust Him like an immovable and solid rock.

So, if you are a professing atheist, you are without excuse. God has covered every base. You are dealing with the One who created the genome, the atom, the unspeakable complexities of DNA and this entire infinite universe. You cannot win. Give up. Humble yourself and surrender to His will today and you will come to know Him “whom to know is life eternal.”

Your Debt Is Wiped Out (T L Osborn)

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Your Debt Is Wiped Out

Jesus assumed our guilt when He suffered the
full penalty of our sins, in our name, in our place in His death for us on the cross. The entire debt against the one who believes on Christ is wiped out. Such a person shall never have to face God’s judgment for sin. Jesus said, I say emphatically that anyone who believes in God who sent me has eternal life. And will never be damned [or condemned or judged] for his or her sins, but has already passed out of death into life. John 5:24LB

There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus-Romans 8:1

for who shall accuse those whom God has chosen? God himself declares them not guilty! Can anyone, then, condemn them?…Jesus Christ is the one who died [for them]…who then can separate us from the love of Christ? Rom.8:33-35TEV As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.Psa.103:12 God is love.1Jo.4:8

God’s love never gives up on us.

God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,2Peter 3:9 God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him would not perish, but would have everlasting life.John 3:16 The gospel [the good news] is the power of God to everyone who believes.Romans 1:16 If any one is in Christ, that person is a new creature. Old things are passed away; all things are become new. 2Co.5:17

You can be a product of GOD’S LOVE-PLAN.

Life Lessons From Road Runner #2: Read the Fine Print

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Lesson 2: Not effective on Road Runners (or Read the Small Print)

In one episode of Road Runner, the Wile E Coyote buys a bottle of earthquake pills. These earthquake pills are designed to cause an earthquake in the live of anyone who eats them.

Road Runner eats all the pills, because they are disguised as bird seed, and runs off. Wile E Coyote waits and waits, but there is no earthquake. He takes some of the pills himself as he is upset they are defective. Only then does he read the small print: CAUTION: Not Effective on Road Runners.

I want you to know that the devil has slipped things into your life, into your family, into your workplace, into your church. He wants earthquakes of depression and strife and envy to explode everywhere you go. But the devil has forgotten to read the small print: Not Effective on People Who Walk in Love.

If you walk in love, you can walk with anyone. Walking in love never has gone to the divorce court, walking in love has never split a church. You can be immune to the attacks of the enemy – immune to the lies he wants to feed you – by choosing to walk in love. You don’t have to find the love – it is already in your heart because God poured it out there (Romans 5.5).

The next time the devil tempts you to have an earthquake in your life: to shout and scream and swear at someone, to cut someone out of your life, to run away from a place you know you should be in, remember the fine print.

Caution: Not Effective on Road Runners.

And walk on by, singing BEEP BEEP as you, immune to the wiles of the devil.

Blessings,
Ben

Run Through Romans (5.2-5)

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2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

You see, when we know that we are righteous and that we have peace with God we have full access to the grace of God.  That means we can stand no matter what is going on around us.  Does it really matter who or what declares war on you when God is at peace with you?  You can rejoice no matter what happens because you know that God is at peace with you.

You might have done something selfish and stupid today, but God is at peace with you.  So rejoice!

3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

Not only can we stand no matter what happens, we can rejoice in tribulations.  What does this mean?  It means that when you know God is at peace with you, you can declare war on any situation or circumstance.

I remember a long time ago, when I was a little child about seven or eight, I was in the supermarket and I was causing trouble.  I had escaped my mother’s careful eye and I was peeling the oranges around the fruit section and having a right giggle.

This lady, I don’t remember if she worked in the shop or not, decided to tell me off.  In fact, she decided to try and put me over her knee and smack my backside.

I was very cheeky to her but I was actually very nervous, especially when she got a hold of me.  She was twisting my wrist and was about to smack me one when my mother came around the counter.  She yelled at this lady “don’t you mess with my son”, and the lady dropped me immediately.  Suddenly I felt safe again, and started making rude gestures at the lady who simply backed off.

Now my behaviour was wrong, and my mother dealt with it, but the point is this: I wasn’t that ladies’ son and she could not declare war on me because I was at peace with my mother.

You are at peace with God – so glory in tribulation.  People calling you names for being a Christian.  Get excited – what are they really going to do to you in eternity?  Nothing, because you are going to stand before God on judgment day and you have peace with God.  Gives you a chance to preach the gospel to them.

Sickness comes on your body and attacks it.  Glory because God is the Healer and you are at peace with Him.  Bills stacking up, glory because God supplies all your needs and you are at peace with Him.

What your tribulation – your troubles – do is work patience.  Patience in the New Testament simply means consistency.  Anyone can praise God for healing when they are well.  But patient people praise God for healing them no matter what their body feels like, and people like that don’t stay sick for long.  Patient people thank God for His provision before they see it, and see it they will.  There is such a joy in being consistent before the Lord.

4And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

This patience – the power of being consistent in praising God – always leads to experience.  You will experience your healing if you consistently praise God for your healing.  You will experience your freedom and deliverance if you consistently praise God for deliverance.

These verses are not about being patient in suffering, patient in barely scraping by.  That is a lie.  These verses are about being patient (consistent) in praising and glorifying God and thanking God and then experiencing what you are thanking God for.

These experiences then bring hope.  Hope is your imagination.  When you see one healing, you start to dream of other people being healed.  When you receive enough provision to meet your needs, you start hoping for the money to start meeting other’s needs.

Hope means you are a positive person.   When you know you are at peace with God you are positive.  Any trouble in your life just makes you consistently praise and thank God for helping you because you know you are at peace with Him and He is your ally and He will help you.  Your praise brings experience as you see your deliverance happen and then you are a hopeful person.

5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

When you have hope you are never ashamed.  No matter what you go through, you know that you are going through and not camping there.  And that means you are not ashamed.  It is no shame because your righteousness is based on the Lord and not your actions or your experiences.

And the other reason we are not ashamed: God has put His love in our heart.  Notice that this is present tense again: God’s love IS shed abroad in our heart.  Do you know that the full love of God is in your heart right now if you are born again?

There used to be a song sung in some churches: “More love, more power, more of you in my life.”  It has a nice tune, I grant that, but it is completely incorrect Biblically speaking.  If you are born again, the love of God is shed abroad in your heart.  If you are born again, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is inside you.  If you are born again, the Lord lives inside you.

How can you ever have more love, more power and more of God in your life?  It is nonsense.   It would be like if you gave me the keys to your car and I kept wandering around you begging you for the very keys you had already given me.  How would you answer a request like that?  You would be very confused.

I don’t think God is confused, but asking for things you already have is ridiculous.  You have the love of God inside you.

If someone near you is making you want to act unloving, don’t beg God to give you more love for that person.  It is a nonsense prayer – and if you have ever prayed like that (I have!) you will know it simply does not work!

What do you do then? Follow the Scripture: glory in your tribulation.  Notice the Bible says glory IN your tribulation, not glory FOR your tribulation.  Don’t thank God that there is someone you find difficult to love in your life, thank God that the love of God IS in your heart.  Your glory will bring patience: you will be someone who is consistency praising God.

Then your patient and consistent praising of God and thanking Him for the love that He has already put in your heart will become your experience.  You will start to feel the love that you know is inside you.  That will bring about hope.  That is how you deal with trouble in your life.


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