Tag Archives: Love

~”One Another” The Call To Fellowship~

New Testament scriptures teaches us how we are to treat one another and live together. It tells us to: live in harmony, love one another; accept one another; instruct one another; greet one another; serve one another; bear with one another; make allowances for one another; be kind and compassionate to one another; speak to one another; admonish one another; encourage one another; spur one another on; offer hospitality; and edify one another. That’s just a part of the list! The point is, we need one another, and we are called to community, we are called to fellowship.

 John 13:35 ~ By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Fellowship is not just hanging out, although hanging out can be fun and have some value. As Christians we must be intentional and deliberate about connecting with people. The goal is not to have a thousand friends, you can be friendly to all, but maturity moves you from quantity (amount) to quality. You should have some people in your life that you can have quality fellowship with because fellowship adds value and brings joy to relationship.

The Bible says it’s not good to be alone. We were made for fellowship to enhance relationships. Part of our relationship with God involves relationship and fellowship with other believers. Our gifts, talents and abilities are not just for us; they are to serve and be shared with others, especially with those in the body of Christ, and particularly with those “body parts” that we are called to be connected to.

When we bring all of those gifts and abilities together we experience God on a level that we would never enjoy being isolated. Christianity cannot be practiced in isolation. If we do, it will become irrelevant.

 We can’t expect the church to meet all of our needs for fellowship. That is not possible. We must bear most of the responsibility. We must actively pursue Godly interaction with other believers. Fellowship must be intentional and it requires investment on our part. Scripture makes it clear: 

Mark 12:33 ~ And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul,  and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Romans 12:10 ~ Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

Hebrews 10:25 ~ not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

 You are going to have varying levels of fellowship according to your ability to communicate, your spiritual maturity, your personality, etc. You cannot be on the same level as everybody and that is ok. No matter where you are spiritually, you have the ability as well as the responsibility to contribute to the fellowship and enrich the relationship. Remember that when we are in fellowship with somebody, we should be adding value to that person. People will fit into one of four categories. Adders, multipliers, subtractors and dividers. If we are in a group with all subtractors and dividers, we need to find another group!

Above all, fellowship is to be God honoring. We should not mess around with things and borders that could potentially bind us or make us fall.

John 5:44 ~ How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?

None of us is a whole body. We are all “parts” and we need one another… or it just doesn’t work. We will have friends, acquaintances, coworkers and probably family members that are not believers and we need to be salt and light to them, but we have to limit what we share and we must determine boundaries for that relationship.

We are called to, and need true fellowship. We should be deliberate about this! Let’s ask God to put “valuable” people in our life to fellowship with, as well as asking Him to show us how to add value to others.

Without TRUE FELLOWSHIP, there are aspects of God that we will never experience.

 

~The Most Important Thing You Can Know In This Life ~

Back in early 1996, I was single and living in a small three-bedroom house. At the time I had taken in some Christian brothers that needed some help and I let them stay in the extra bedrooms. I was used to living alone and so, having two other single men living in the house, coming and going all the time, pulling on me for advice and help, had put a serious cramp in my life style. It seemed that I could never find an island of time in my house where I could just be alone with God and enjoy His presence.

I came home from work one day and was almost knocked over by the total silence in my house. No one was home but me! It had been weeks since I had the house all to myself. I remember grabbing my bible, pen and paper as I sat down on the couch. I finally had some peace and quiet and I was going to make the most of it.

I lifted my bible up to God and said “Lord, show me something cool in your Word”. Now, I know that doesn’t sound like the most spiritual of prayers, but I said it in faith and I launched it from my heart. Quite to my surprise, God spoke to me in a strong inward voice. The Lord said to me “Jack, what would you like to know?”

God had not spoken to me that strong and that clear for a long time. This wasn’t just the inward witness, it was so strong it shocked me and took me a little off guard. I got completely still. I was in the presence of God! I knew that at that very moment I could ask God any question about His Word and I would get a clear and definite answer.

What an opportunity! What an honor! For a few seconds my mind was racing through all these big questions that have been argued over by theologians for centuries. (and a bunch of useless questions about alien existence, dinosaurs and how to become rich by tomorrow.) Then this one thought arrested me. (thank God for the Holy Ghost!)I spoke it out even as I thought it, I said “Lord I want you to show me what YOU know I need the most”. I had scarcely finished my request and God spoke to me again in that strong inward voice. He said    “1 Corinthians 13”. I began flipping through my bible at light speed and was half way to the verse when it hit me. That’s the love chapter! I smiled and.looked toward heaven and said “you got me.”

The Lord then spoke to me again and told me to get my Amplified bible and read it like I had never seen it before. So I did just that. I slowly began to digest the exhaustive description of love that the Amplified bible gives. I let God speak to me through His word. When I got to the end of the chapter and I was reflecting on how much I lacked in the love department, I was about to close the book and the Lord spoke yet again and said: “Read the next verse”. So I read on to 1 Corinthians 14:1 in the Amplified bible and this is what it said:

 1 Corinthians 14:1 EAGERLY PURSUE and seek to acquire [this] love [make it your aim, your great quest];….

I knew that I had heard from heaven that day. God just told me by His Spirit, and through His word, that this was the one thing that I needed to know about the most. Then I realized that love is what we all need the most. It is the New Testament command to all believers.

Although this is something very personal to me, I believe it applies to everyone in the Body of Christ. I am still learning about the subject of love, and particularly how to love God, but I have realized this. Love is the most powerful thing you can acquire. It is the unfailing force that defines Gods character. It is the foundation of our faith. It is the one sure key that will open the door to the supernatural in your life. Love is a person. Love is God Himself!

1 John 4:8  ~ He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

The title of this post is: “The Most Important Thing You Can Ever Know”. That may seem to be a pretty “all-inclusive” statement, but take a look at the verse in 1 John 4:8 again. “He that doesn’t love … doesn’t know God”. Is our knowledge of God, our understanding of Him, tied to how much we know about love, how we express it, how much we walk in it? Look at the commandment we have in the New Testament, I think it answers the question.

Mark 12:29-31 ~ 29And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

I truly believe that the reason we don’t see more signs, miracles and wonders in the church now is because the church is weak and we have such little knowledge and understanding about love, which is God’s nature, His personality, His very being. We have a promise in the book of Daniel that really stirs me up to pursue this love:

Daniel 11:32 ~ Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.

I don’t know about you, but I choose to do exploits! … I choose Love … I choose God!

*The Christmas Gift We All Want!

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Faithfulness, Goodness, Gentleness Self-Control and – 

God brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard.  Share them~

 Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23


The Centurion’s Faith

Accounts in the bible are more than just stories. We read and even wonder in awe about the great deeds they showcase. One of these stories for me was the centurion,  whose faith got his servant healed. (Luke 7:1-10 ttp://www.biblegateway.com/pass age/?search=Luke%207:1-10&version=NIV ).

A few words brought this story home to me. The centurion’s faith not only got his servant healed, but also had Jesus admire and reference it as the greatest He had ever seen.~> Why is this account in the Bible? Is is here to bring shame on me or Jesus’ followers for not having such faith? No, I believe one of the main things Jesus wanted to showcase here was not how great this man’s faith was or to compare ours to it, but to show  how simple and powerful faith is.

So when he heard about

Jesus…

                  Bingo!

He heard about Jesus- faith came. 

 

He heard about Jesus!  The centurion acted on what he heard because he believed, expected something good to happen and it did. Faith comes by hearing… If my faith walk does not display what I hope for, it most likely has a lot to do with what I am  hearing. I know faith comes by hearing.

*The question is

Am I hearing about Jesus? 

I need to spend more time hearing about Jesus because it will have a great impact on my faith, what I say, do and get to accomplish for Him.

hc

~ To Love God ? ~ So… What Does That Look Like? ~

I was in a time of worship and prayer. I had one of my favorite worship tapes playing and I had been singing to the Lord for about an hour. My devotional time had changed over the last couple of weeks from prayer and reading the Bible to just worshipping Him. Every day God honored me with His presence, and every day that went by, my life seemed to get clearer and less complicated. I began to see everything differently, God, people, myself.

There is something about worship that purifies you and puts life into its proper perspective. It’s like getting into a vehicle that takes you into the presence of the Almighty God. In His presence there is a wonderful exchange that takes place, and we always get the better of that exchange. You honor God with your love and devotion, and He transforms you, and you become more like Him. What a powerful thing worship is. Worship is also anther vital life connection which we will discuss in a later chapter.

As I was enjoying the sweetness of His presence the tape had ended and I just sat there in a holy silence. The joy that I felt was overwhelming. You can’t worship God for more than a few minutes without it bringing some kind of joy in your life.

I wasn’t sure what to do, I really didn’t want to move but I wanted to bless Him, so I said “Lord I love you SO MUCH!” Then I heard this still small voice on the inside, “Jack, how much do you love me?”  Without thinking I burst out with my reply, a phrase that we all have used or at least heard. I said “Lord I love you with all of my heart!”  The Lord then replied in that same small voice “That’s not enough”. With those words I became very still.

The entire atmosphere in that room had just changed. I was very aware that God had just asked me a question and I gave Him the wrong answer. I also realized that the Lord doesn’t ask us questions because He is looking for information. I could still sense His presence, but it was the presence of a Father bringing correction and instruction to His child in a loving and tender way. He was trying to teach me something and I was intently listening on the inside. He immediately brought to my remembrance this scripture:

 Mark 12:30 ~ And you shall  love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  This is the first commandment.

It didn’t take my little brain long to do the math on that one. Loving God with all your heart is only one-fourth of what we are commanded to do. 25%! I thought to myself, “that’s pretty weak”.

I began to meditate on what it meant to love God with your soul, to love Him with your mind, and to love Him with strength. I had to admit that I really didn’t know what that meant. I was intrigued by this new line of thought, and at the same time, I was appalled to think that those three major areas were either weak or non-existent in my walk with God.

I was doing my best to show the Lord how much I loved Him, but my best is only my best until I can do better, I saw areas of my life that I could improve on. God was showing me that I could do better and I realized that I should have been looking for ways to do better all along.

From that point I began to take a long hard look at my life and my relationship with God. A relationship that I thought was pretty strong. I knew God was about to redefine my definition of “strong relationship”. The first thing I did was ask God to teach me about His love. He was obviously trying to show me something and I wanted to get everything He was trying to give me.

The second thing I did was get a concordance and look up the meaning for the Greek word Love. I thought I knew what it meant but after that kind of correction from God I did not want to take any thing for granted. To know how to love I first needed to make sure that I knew exactly what love was. The word for love that is used in Mark 12:30  is the Greek verb agapeo.

Now, I knew that “agape” was the Greek noun for the God kind of love and I had read 1 Corinthians 13 more times than I could count, but this word was new to me. It was far more powerful in its explanation. The definition in short is simply this:

agapeo = Love,  a verb.  “the commitment of devotion that is directed by the will…and can be commanded as a duty”.

It has been said that love can only be known by the actions that it prompts. In other words, love gives of itself and expresses itself in action or it is not love. Love is as love does. It’s not enough to just say you love someone, love is active and  alive, an aggressive force, to love is to give. In fact love is the highest and most honorable form of giving, while giving is the chief expression of love.

Look at the language that is used in the definition, words like commitment and devotion. If you have ever been committed or devoted to something or someone, you know full well that it takes some effort and some work.

Love is tied to your will. We must make a choice to love. By choosing love we have automatically chosen to give something of ourselves. Love is an act of your will, without action it is not love.

I come from a faith background and I knew that faith without works is dead according to James 2:26, but I just found out that love without works is dead also. That made perfect sense to me because Faith works by Love according to Galatians 5:6 . I began to see why my faith was not working at the level I knew it could.

We have all heard the old phrase “I’m falling in love” but you can’t fall in love, that is just infatuation. To fall into something indicates a mistake or something accidental. Love is far more purposeful than that. It takes concentrated effort and focus.

Love is not defined until you have worked at it for a while and invested something in it.

There are a lot of Christians today that are merely infatuated with God and they think that they really love Him. In fact if you told these folks that they really don’t love God they would be ready to fight you to defend their position.

Those that are infatuated with God are the folks like this: They go to church on Sunday (most of the time) because they don’t want to make the spouse mad or they don‘t want to feel guilty. These people know in their heart that God is real and they may even believe that God has great things for them. Unfortunately they don’t serve Him in the church, they don’t give of their finances and they don’t get involved with supporting the vision of the local church body, not even in prayer. Their bibles are dusty and all they do is play church. They always have an excuse why they can’t get involved in serving somewhere in the church and they will drop a few bucks in the offering plate as it goes by so it looks like they are givers and “doing their part” to those around them. These are the people who haven’t committed or devoted themselves to God.

Don’t be discouraged if I have just summarized your Christian life and walk with God. The good news is that it is very easy to move from being infatuated with God to truly loving Him. I have seen many people in my church make this transition as their faith develops. It is a glorious thing to see.

It is easy to tell if someone is really in love with God. You can see it in their expressions, their actions, and even the tone of their voice when they mention “The Lord”.

As a church in these last days we must make this transition into truly loving God with everything that is in us. No more half-hearted, part-time, milky toast Christianity. There is a world out there that is desperate to see this level of sold out commitment. The greatest witness that we have is our love for God and people. A lot of folks are searching for this and don’t even know it. The saved and lost alike.

I have asked the Lord to show me how to Love with the soul, mind and strength and have found that this is revelation that our entire Christian life is built on. Knowing what each aspect of this command looks like can make a huge difference in your life and ministry.

~The Most Powerful Faith Confession You Can Make~

~ Because the love of God is in my heart, I am patient and kind. I do not envy or boast and I am not proud. I do not dishonor others, I am not self-seeking, I am not easily angered and I keep no record of a suffered wrong. I do not delight in evil but I rejoice in the truth. I always protect, hope and persevere. I am always willing to believe the best of every person. I never fail. ~

1Corinthians 13:4-8 ~ NIV

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  8 Love never fails….