Friday, May 9, 2014

Encircled and Empowered by God's Love

image used under Creative Commons license,
photo by zonafeyed on pixabay

There's power in living in the things of God.  Notice that I didn't say doing or saying or thinking.  We can outwardly do things because "we're supposed to", without having any conviction about what we're doing. We can say things because we think that's what we ought to say or it's what we think others want to hear. And we can claim ideas as part of our own thought process because we believe it's how we ought to think, whether we fully agree or not.

Whether any of that has even the slightest form of "right results" or not, it's missing the one key ingredient.  We haven't really made it our own.  And that's "where the rubber meets the road".  Our Christianity comes out in the things we live in, not the things we act out.



Give freely. Pray fervently. Fellowship regularly. Worship outrageously. Thank constantly. Repent sincerely. Love unconditionally. -- @Nicolettafull on Twitter

I saw that on Twitter and fell in love with the list.  But they have to come from a right heart.  Let's follow what Scripture says.

Give freely:

Luke 21:1-3 (KJV)  And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.  And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:

2 Corinthians 9:7 (KJV)  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

As we can see from these verses, it's not really the giving that counts, although that's important. God's focus is on why we give (or not), not what we give.  It's the why that will determine the what.

Pray fervently:


1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV)  Pray without ceasing.

Psalm 100:4 (KJV)  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Prayer is our end of the two way communication stream with God.  It should be done with an "attitude of gratitude".  And we should connect with God on a permanent, unending basis.  Prayer and our connection with God is not filler to go between other events in our life.  Those events are supposed to be in the context of our connection with God.

Fellowship regularly:

Hebrews 10:24-25 (KJV)  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Proverbs 28:9 (KJV)  He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

Romans 10:17 (KJV)  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Those verses are often used to support church attendance.  And, in fact, that's part of it.  But there's more to fellowship than just listening to a preacher.  It's also our conversations with fellow believers that have us as "iron sharpeneth iron" (Pr 27:17) and edifying the Body of Christ (Rom 14:19, 1Th 5:11).  We become the face and the voice of Jesus Christ for each other.

Worship outrageously:

2 Samuel 6:13-14 (KJV)  And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings.  And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.

That passage says it all  The ark represented God's presence.  And it was being returned to its place in Israel.  Can you picture the exuberance of sacrificing an ox and a fattened steer every six paces till the ark got to its final resting place?  Both the Hebrew and Greek words speak of bowing in reverence.  But here we see the joy of reverence, to the point where David leaps and dances with great joy.  How he appeared wasn't important to him.  The Lord's presence was.

Thank constantly:

1 Chronicles 16:8 (KJV)  Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.

Psalm 30:4 (KJV)  Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

Luke 17:12-19 (KJV)  And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.  And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.  And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?  There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.  And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

These verses paint an interesting picture that's summarized in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.".  1 Chronicles 16 tells us that thanksgiving, prayer, and praising God are all parts of the same package.  Psalm 30 adds worship songs to that.  And, while Luke 17 doesn't come right out and suggest that nine of the lepers missed out on healing, which one does Jesus tell that his faith healed him?  The one who glorified God.  And there's a reality demonstrated, here.  All of these things are outward signs of our internal spiritual state.

Repent sincerely:

Numbers 23:19 (KJV)  God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Malachi 3:6 (KJV)  For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. 

Luke 13:5 (KJV)  I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Here's another of those "Wow!" concepts.  God doesn't regret what He decides, He isn't changing His mind.  In fact, He doesn't change.  It's us who need repentance, a change in our direction and thinking.  Toward God.  And I think the sincerely is in our header phrase for emphasis.  If we're not sincerely moving toward God and away from everything else, it really isn't repentance.  We need to intentionally change direction without a plan to change back to our original direction.

Love unconditionally:

Matthew 22:37-40 (KJV)  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 6:23-24 (KJV)  But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

John 21:15-18 (KJV)  So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.  He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.

Those passages are a little long, but we need to understand the full reality.  In English "love" is one word that shifts a little, depending on context and attached adjectives.  In Biblical Greek, there are two different words for love.  The one that's seen in all three passages is agape.  That word describes a love that's unending, unchanging, unconditional.  It can be that because God is the source and He's unending, unchanging, and unconditional.  

By ourselves, we're incapable of agape love.  Peter recognized that in John 21.  His responses to Jesus' questions each say he has phileo love, an affection, for Jesus.  "Jesus, what you see is what you get."  Which makes Peter 100% right and 100% wrong.  By himself, Peter's capacity to love was limited.  But he'd obviously not fully recognized Jesus' capabilities to change him.  The end of this passage makes it clear that Peter's life will change.  He will go places and do things he's never considered.  That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with phileo.  But it's limited.  Jesus is telling Peter that God is going to add agape love to his quiver of spiritual weapons and attributes.  Which will take his spiritual life to a whole new level.

That brings us to a final thought.  Every single one of these is connected to some aspect of our relationship with God and what He's doing or has done.  None are fully possible without Him, but we get blessed by all of them.  Each is related to all the others.  So, which are you starting with, today? Giving, Prayer, fellowship,worship, spiritual gratitude, repentance, or love?

And thanks to Nicky (@Nicolettafull on Twitter) for inspiring this.

4 comments:

  1. God has given us all we need to live a life of godliness, His divine nature. However, it isn't automatic! Being filled with the Spirit, continually, and yielding to the Spirit, always, makes this kind of godly lifestyle a reality.

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  2. Great stuff Bill! Very inspiring!

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    1. Thanks, Moriah. I'm glad God spoke to you through it.

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