Shallow Christian?

P1250034 copyP1240982 copy P1250040 copyThere is a depth available in God that those who hunger for God will find! The Lord said, “Seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all of your heart” There is a condition to finding Him, there is a condition for the satisfaction of our souls in God. The condition is; “When you seek Me with all of your heart.” The Lord leaves very little, in fact no room for complacency in that statement. There is a wonderful promise, lavish and abundant in the Lord, He has given us great access to Himself, but the access is through faith and perseverance. He has invited us into a wonderful wrestling match, a wrestling match with Himself! We see the results of these wrestling matches in those who would not give up all throughout the scriptures. And this invitation resounds again and again; it is the call to return to the knowledge of God. It is deep calling unto deep!

There are a lot of practical things that we can do in response to this invitation from God: pray, fast, read the Bible, read a certain chapter or certain verses in the Bible over and over for a dedicated period of time, RWSSP, pray in tongues for extended periods of time, daily set aside time to meet God, turn on anointed praise and worship not simply to listen to but to get lost in God’s Presence with. So many helpful tips, but we just have to do it! Stop considering the idea of seeking God and start!!!

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, and those who come to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Exciting adventures and encounters with God await those who will diligently seek Him! So what are we waiting for, what hinders us from getting lost in the Beauty of this Man? King David said, “One thing I have desired of the Lord”. Could this be a key to depth in God we are missing today? Are we hindered by the fact that we desire more than One thing? Is our divided heart hindered by distractions from being able to pursue the knowledge of God?

I am presently focusing on our responsibility to seek after God. Initially and throughout our walk with the Lord it is the Father who draws us to the Son (John 6:44), but once we are in we need to begin to actively pursue Him. We are not going to go into deeper encounter with Jesus Christ by sitting in front of our computers looking at Facebook all day. Neither will we go deeper by sitting in front of television. Maybe neither of these are a distraction for you, whatever it is, if there is something that is an escape in your life that you run after instead of the beauty of Jesus, it will hinder your experience in God. I’m not being legalistic I am being realistic! You don’t get to know someone by being distracted with everything else but him. Much of the impurity that we face in our hearts is not simply sexual; it is diluted desire. Desire that is not “One thing” oriented is not pure. This is a pretty strong message that I wish I could say I am living out perfectly, but God’s word calls us to it. I am sharing partly from my experience but primarily from a need in my own heart for encounter with God that longs for whole-heartedness, for the sake of knowing Him.

Sometimes what distract us are those things that are gain to us. Sometimes it’s just the passion and drive to make a name for ourselves, to be recognized; building our own kingdom. Serving ourselves instead of the Lord. Serving ourselves instead of others.

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:7-14

I believe that there are people alive today that are embodying this message, not that they are perfect but if you cut them the will bleed out pure unadulterated passion for Jesus. They have willingly laid down earthly treasures, reputation, and legitimate pleasures for the sake of knowing Jesus. As Paul said in Philippians 3 “I count all things as loss for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” I can remember seasons of my life when I so desired to know God that I lay down many things to position myself to encounter God as much as possible. I would pray the prayers that people were afraid to pray, “God send your fire”, understanding that His refining would prepare me to go deeper into His Presence. Still today, I ask God for patience, humility and all of those things. I know people are joking often times when they talk about not praying those kinds of prayers, because of the means that God uses to produce that fruit in us, but I am not joking when I say that I do pray those kinds of prayers.

But I admit that I have not been taking full advantage of the resounding invitation to go deeper, I’m not saying either that I have given up the search, but I am aware of great weakness in this area in my life. We cannot depend on yesterday’s encounters with God; we need to press on toward the upward call of God in Christ.

How to Steward Hunger

For some time around February and March of this year, 2014, the Lord had been convicting me that I was not being a wise steward of my time, spending more than I should on Facebook. I am not saying by that that I was spending hours on it, but that I was spending more time than was productive. God was convicting me that I should not read status after status that my friends posted and I did not need to check continually throughout the day to see if somebody had commented on my status or liked it. Since the 21 Days of prayer and fasting the Prayer Furnace did back in April and into May I have experienced an awakening of hunger in my heart for the Lord. I looked back after this awakening in my heart and was amazed at how dull I had grown, or as they would say in Puerto Rico, how “pasmao” I had been. Amazing how 1-2 compiled hours of social media affected my hunger and desire for God! I still loved Jesus and served him and prayed. But I realized that my prayer life had been negatively impacted. I found that the things distracting me actually hindered my experience with God, at which point I shifted how I used my time.

Hunger for God has to be stewarded. If we do not act on the desires to “draw near to God” then not only will we miss out on the encounter that was available for that moment but also we will quench that desire. The more we act on the desire to pursue God the more that desire and joy will increase in our hearts. We can actually direct our appetites. That is why some foods are acquired tastes. When I was vegan some years back due to reading some health books I stopped eating processed foods and sweets. I began to loose the taste for unhealthy things that used to really enjoy and began to enjoy foods that I used to dislike, like carrots, I found them to be very sweet and still like them to this day although I am not a vegan anymore. The problem that many of us face is that we trained our appetites according to the love of the world. We have a hard time enjoying the Bible because we are so full with so many other things. We eat 5 bags of Dorito chips and then are disillusioned when we cannot find enjoyment in the 5-star restaurant. David meditated on the Word of God continually and he said about it, “How sweet are your words to my taste, they are sweeter than honey…” Try it! Began to read and meditate upon the word of God, pick a Psalm, the Gospel of John, or the Book of the Acts of the Apostles and read it over and over! You will find that you will begin to enjoy it more and more!

There are a lot of things that can distract believers that are not sinful “per se.” The word pleasure is not a bad word and does not equate sin. Eating a delicious Chipotle Veggie Bowl with guacamole on it is very pleasurable. It’s also healthy! Playing a sport, winning a game, watching a play, spending time with family and friends all of these things are good. Even watching a wholesome movie… you know, one of those movies that actually uphold Godly values rather than violence, sensuality, witchcraft, profanity and things that we sometimes think that since we are not actually doing them it is somehow ok to watch them… Oh, excuse me… I am now stepping off of my soapbox. J Back to what I was sharing, there are actually things that are pleasurable and not sinful. Some term these “legitimate pleasures” because they are things that are good for followers of Christ to engage in.

With all that has been said, I have to say, a pleasure that is not technically sin is not “legitimate” if it takes our gaze away from our Beloved. In other words idolatry does not belong on a list of “legitimate pleasures”. Television does not equal sin but idolatry does. If idolatry is in your equation with television (or fill in the blank), then there is a problem. Some for the sake of comfort will allow for things in their lives that are actually destructive to them. The love of the world truly is enmity with God. For the sake of comfort Lot moved his family in the direction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 13:5-13). Comfort is not bad, but if it is at the expense of nearness to God, than it is not worth it. It’s time for the high places, the altars of comfort, to be torn down in our nation, in the church.

One of the things that feed boredom most in our days is the entertainment industry. I can remember sitting in front of a television for hours on Saturdays while growing up and those TV programs were powerless to deal with the boredom that I was trying to escape. Boredom is the fruit of idleness; it is the evidence of barrenness (fruitlessness). Distraction cannot cure purposelessness; it can only increase it. Right now I am mostly speaking about a heart posture with which we sometimes go to entertainment. I understand that not every time a movie is watched that what I am describing is taking place; however I do believe that too often the details of this description are the reality. Lack of faith and lack of diligence (diligence – disciplines motivated by purpose) I believe are among the greatest hindrances to seeking God and to doing so with joy.

He Rewards those who Diligently Seek Him!

We see the results of “with all of your heart” kind of joyful seeking in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Elisha, Mary of Bethany and many others that we look up to from the scriptures. These men and women did not give up! If they found they were off track they would get right back on and continue to seek God. They sought His Presence, His blessing, His promise, His rewards, His face, but it all pointed to Him! Jacob wrestled with God for blessing, he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” I want to seek all of God, His face, His hands, everything!

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”

Hebrews 11:6

This verse tells us about something that pleases God. Faith! I have found that often times I encounter God according to the level of expectation, faith, with which I come to Him. I did not say that I encounter God a certain way that I expected to, but that I encountered Him according to the level of faith I go before Him with. When I decide that I am going to set time aside to encounter God I am not trying to fulfill a quota of quite time, I am going in with “One thing” in mind.

Encounter-less times of prayer should not be an option for us. I believe that we need to set our expectation to meet God high, I don’t want to be satisfied with an intellectual experience that my 21st-century-brain can wrap around. I want 1 Corinthians 2:9-12! I want an experience with God that requires the spirit of Wisdom and Revelation to enter into. I believe that tonight the Lord is calling us to return to Him. We have seen that nothing else has satisfied or can satisfy.

The last verses from Jeremiah 29 spoke hope to the Jews in captivity, but I believe reveal to us an aspect of God’s heart and reveal a principle that endures to this day. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord…” Let us return to the Lord! Let us seek Him with all of our hearts!

But as it is written:“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

1 Corinthians 2:9-12

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“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

Jeremiah 2:13

“Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.”

Hosea 6:1-3

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.”

Jeremiah 29:11-14

Live For Eternity

Live For Eternity

It is time for a generation to seek the Lord’s Face, those who will in purity desire that which is eternal and forsake temporal and finite pleasures. The Lord is alive and by His blood has given us access to enter the Holiest. So let’s do it. Let’s not settle for anything less than eternity. Many have fallen in love with the world. God is calling His people out of Babylon. He says “Come out of her my people.” God will bring judgment on this evil system of injustice that is founded upon the love of money. He will bring judgment and He would that none of His people partake in that judgment. He has brought us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Let’s walk like it. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). The Apostle John reveals that the love of the world is enmity with God. Lot’s wife could not get over it and she became a partaker of God’s judgment against this evil called the love of the world.

What God has in store for us and has made available to us is greater than any resource this world can offer. Unbelief has so gripped “believers” that they settle for what their eyes can see. Esau settled for what his eyes could see and what his tongue could taste; he missed out on a great inheritance. Even when he tried to repent he could not, though he sought it with tears. Praise the Lord His blood cleanses us from sin when we repent, but the age to come will be too late to repent. Today is the day of salvation. This is the day to seek the Lord. With a bowl of soup he declared that he cared more for this age than what God could offer. He greatly dishonored God by turning from Him to a lesser pleasure. Not only could he not receive the blessing but the Lord deals with him and his descendents in a severe way. Malachi, Obadiah, and Isaiah 63 all prophesy the demise of Esau’s descendents (Edom). And it is all because Esau esteemed the temporal. “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated, and laid waste his mountains and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness” (Malachi 1:2b-3). God says that Edom will be “the people against whom the Lord will have indignation forever” (Malachi 1:4b). God takes what Esau trusted in other than Himself and destroys it.

It is offensive when someone does not receive a gift that you have for them. And at times it is even rude to decline a gift. God has paid a great price for a great gift for mankind. Those who count what God offers as a common thing actually are in opposition to Him and greatly disrespect Him. Again, the love of the world is enmity with God. Those who love the world are in opposition with God and with His plans on the earth. Hebrews 11:16 teaches that God is not ashamed to be called the God of those who desire the great things that He has prepared for us. When we live our lives constantly pursuing this world and its goods we greatly miss God and His goods. Hebrews 2:3 says, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” How shall we escape the judgment of the Lord if we deny His offer and invitation? The Lord is calling us near and it is time that we respond. This invitation is not simply to pray a prayer but to give our lives to Him as He laid down His life for us.

Hebrews 12 teaches that we lay aside the weights and sins that burden us, entangle us, and keep us from running the race. It’s time we lay aside the distractions that keep us from fully devoting ourselves to Him who is Beautiful, to Him who is Worthy. Abraham forsook life as he knew it to follow God, whom he had never seen, nor known. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). When he got there, having opportunity and the resources needed, did not build for himself a city in the land promised to him but rather dwelt “in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:9b-10). It is this kind of faith that pleases God.

What are you living for? Is it the approval of men? For a good reputation? Is it to have a title or influence on the earth? To be wealthy? Are you living from day-to-day? There is something better. There is eternity to consider. What makes us great on the earth leaves us in obscurity in heaven. When we begin to live for eternity, we will begin to live from eternity. What man thinks of you today does not matter tomorrow. It will not last. But there are things that will remain for all eternity. The fathers of the faith spoken of in Hebrews 11 all live with eternity in mind. To dwell in the House of the Lord was not a nice thought or a side idea but it affected everything that King David did. We need this obsession to so dictate our lives that we can say, “I have set the Lord always before me, because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved” (Psalms 16:8). We need to so live before the Lord, that like David we can say, “Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, the place where Your Glory dwells” (Psalms 26:8). It is then that we will begin to carry the realities of heaven into the now.

Those who live from day-to-day experience the joy that a day on earth can offer. But those who live for eternity experience the greater things that the Lord has prepared for us. All of our lives we are encouraged to look ahead, to dream, to have goals. Why? Because they push us forward. When I ran cross country I had one thing in mind, the finish line and the rewards that awaited me behind that line; water, rest, refreshing, encouragement from friends and family etc. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that set before us, Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2a). Without vision people live aimlessly. This is the vision that we are exhorted to live for; “Looking unto Jesus.” When you greatly desire something, you do everything with that in my mind. Jesus endured for the joy set before Him, even on His way to Calvary He could not get you off of His mind. We likewise will endure for the joy set before us. When I live for eternity; every second on this side counts. What we live for overflows from our hearts into our everyday lives.

Do you value eternity? This eternity I write of is not just a timeless existence, but I am referring to the age to come, and our proximity to Jesus in His ever increasing Kingdom. Here is how you can find out where your values truly are. What is the thing that preoccupies your thoughts? Is it the latest news, the newest movie, or is it the moving of His Spirit upon your heart. David said, “One thing I have desired of the Lord and that will I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the Beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). What is the greater part of your earthly resources of time and money being invested into? Is it on Facebook and technology, is it aimlessly with friends and on the latest fashion, or is it in the Presence of God and into His work? You know, to pray without ceasing is not something for Christians in the first century church or for leaders today. He made a way for all of us. Is this true in our lives; “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere” (Psalm 84:10a)? Is He someone that you cannot get off your mind? Are your earthly resources invested into this desire of being with Him? Let’s turn our hearts towards the Lord. Let’s seek His Face!

Are you Hungry for God?

Are you Hungry for God?

You cannot long for something that you have never tasted of to some degree. Without a taste of His promise we would be ignorant and lack desire. People say “ignorance is bliss,” I say, ‘ignorance is ignorant,’ it keeps you from attaining what is available, from pressing for the upward call of God in Christ. The psalmist says “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is Good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him” (Psalm 34:8). A taste of His Beauty lets us see His Goodness, and seeing His Goodness allows us to desire Him more. It is impossible to have hunger for God apart from vision. He initiates the Hunger in our hearts and does so by opening our eyes to His Goodness and Worth.

The Lord likes to make us sure that He has something good in store for us, and will often give us a taste so that we want more. That taste will give us vision, perseverance, and purpose to continue in a certain direction to attain the fullness of that which we only had a taste of.

Jesus had a taste of the joy set before Him, and therefore He endured the cross despising the shame. Abraham had a taste of the Heavenly City and therefore he did not build a city for himself. Moses had a taste of the riches of Christ and therefore he forsook the riches of Egypt, and left Egypt as seeing Him who is invisible. They had tasted and seen and therefore put their trust and their hope in God.

This kind of Hunger draws God’s attention and He satisfies it. Sometimes the reason we don’t experience God’s presence is simply because we don’t desire it. We are so full of other things that we no longer express the need in our hearts because we are unaware of it.

God wants to kiss us with His Word (see Song of Songs 1:2). The kisses of His word, equip us to have the hunger needed so that we can be filled. It is those revelations of His beauty, those invitations that make room for Hunger. If that place of hunger is being satisfied by something else, you have greatly limited yourself. You can have as much of God and His presence as you want, but if you don’t want Him, God will find somebody else that does.

One of the greatest hindrances to hunger for God is legitimate pleasures. Legitimate pleasures are those things that are not sinful to do and sometimes are even beneficial. Sports, many hobbies, and diverse enjoyable activities are examples of legitimate pleasures. These activities often become idols in our hearts that we justify because they are not ‘sinful.’ They become what we try to satisfy our God-given need with. The reason they are such a great hindrance is because they are often so widely accepted that we do not realize it is actually taking our time from the King of Glory.

Though most of our, “legitimate pleasures,” are actually not legitimate at all. Anything that agrees with sin and we ourselves tolerate is not legitimate. Our culture tolerates much sin and even calls it good, those pleasures are sinful and we must repent. Sin is definitely a hindrance to Hunger for God.

Though legitimate pleasures are not wrong things, however sometimes they actually get in the way of what God wants to do in our life. The Laodicean church was so dulled by these that Jesus said He would spew them out of His mouth. TV sometimes is a legitimate pleasure, some video games may be legitimate (maybe…), etc. But they sometimes take up so much of that resource called time and that currency of Heaven called Hunger that we don’t have much left for God. The problem comes when we are no longer able to be what we were created to be; and that is to be those who are constantly in awe of the Beauty of Jesus.

The Lord had me go through a season of giving up many legitimate as well as illegitimate (sinful) pleasures. I stopped watching TV for the most part, maybe once every two or three months I would watch a movie or something. I stopped playing video games, computer games, etc. Surfing the internet and Facebook was a problem, spending the resource of time aimlessly. All this to say, for a season that has not ended I have laid aside all these hindrances. I lay them all down because I wanted to experience the presence and power of God. It was not just because they were sin, though some were sin, but I lay them down unto encounter with Jesus.

This is not legalism, it is Desire, and you spend more time with whatever you enjoy most. And depending on your hunger-level, when you find that something is getting in the way of what you really want you get rid of it. Time is a resource, and we can use it for that which brings us most pleasure. But what brings us most pleasure. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea). If we don’t know that God is most pleasurable, if we haven’t tasted and seen that He is good, then we will use our resources on others.

In the season that I gave up many legitimate pleasures, I began to encounter God as I had never before. I stumbled into His presence one time as I was worshipping Him. I did not plan it or even expect it, but He surprised me. I was just sitting in front of my parents’ computer and decided to turn on some worship music saved in the music program in the computer. As I started worshipping the Lord He met me, gave me a taste, and I was never able to go back. From that time on I knew because I had tasted that I had access into His presence and that it was very sweet and enjoyable. Though I had no idea what awaited me, I am so glad He showed me. In that season of encounter it got to a point that I would simply close my eyes, quietly say “Hallelujah,” or another expression of worship, and His presence would fill my being. I would come home from school and run into my room to worship God. It became my favorite part of the day.

I believe the reason why many don’t encounter Him frequently and deeply is because they don’t give Him much room. Hunger begets hunger, when you say yes to His call, when you participate in His invitation, then more hunger will be given. David wrote, “When You (Lord) said to me ‘Seek My Face’ my heart said ‘Your face I will seek” (Psalm 27). The more you give yourself to something that is enjoyable the more you begin to enjoy it. That is how we were made. You don’t come to enjoy prayer by playing basketball; you come to enjoy prayer by doing it and encountering the Beautiful One. I’m not saying that sports are bad; I’m just saying that the way you get to know Jesus is by spending time with Him. Praise God, He is everywhere and we can encounter Him no matter where we are or what we are doing. Now if you find that you are unable to engage with Jesus doing certain things because your focus is divided, separate time to be with Him undistracted.

If you watch TV/play video games on a daily basis, or check your Facebook 4-5 times a day, I don’t believe you will enter into the more that is available. And I believe your encounter with the Lord will be limited. If you do these it is safe to assume that you are spending at least an hour a day engaged in these activities. I’m not necessarily saying you are in sin. But I believe that this is a strong of a hindrance. This is not a commandment in the scriptures, “Thou shall not check Facebook more than twice a day” (2 Sebastians 5:16)… But I believe that the focus we give these things are a hindrance to our enconter with God. I want to challenge any reading this that participates in any of these or anything that the Holy Spirit has been highlighting in your heart to lay down. Take a 21 day media fast, purpose to take an hour aside daily to worship Him, even in addition to time you already spend with Him, and see what happens. After those 21 days of fasting, see if you notice anything when you do these things again. Most of you will notice a dulling in your heart as you participate in these things again. Are you going to hell if you do these things, NO!! That’s not what I’m saying at all, but there is more available and I want you all to take a hold of it and find the greater pleasure.

I used to constantly ask God to send the fire of His Spirit so that anything that stands in the way may be removed. I didn’t want anything to rob me of the fullness. And this ought to still be my prayer and our prayer. God has so much in store for us; to give it up for temporal things that will not endure in eternity is an insult to God’s generosity. The way the author of Hebrews says this same thing is, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). Let us not neglect this great salvation that the Lord has given to us, but let us take a hold of everything that He has made available without letting love for the things of this world and for money keep us from His fullness.

 

 

Sermon on the Mount – The Way Everlastian Pt. 3 Con’t

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gives us disciplines that will actually position us to encounter Him. The disciplines spoken of in Matthew 6 are giving, praying and fasting, and as stated before, doing them in secret is the key. These three disciplines are presented by Jesus as being normal Christianity. He did not say not “If you give..” neither did He command it then, He said “When you… give… pray… fast” (Matthew 6). He did not present them as something we had to do, but as something we would do, and He directed us on how we should express those disciplines so that they are most appealing to the Father. These can be done for our own conscience sake, out of our desire for others to see, or out of our Love for God and desire to draw near to Him. If the motivation behind these disciplines is not coming out of a place of Love for God primarily and Love for others, they are empty.

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven… do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

There are actual rewards to giving, praying and fasting. The reward is the knowledge of Christ. It is revelation of Jesus and Christ-likeness. We encounter God through giving and come to know Jesus’ faithfulness. The sacrifice in giving, when done before the Father, is multiplied and the reward we gain is greater then the loss. We can only give what we have been given, we must acknowledge that it wasn’t ours to begin with, now it is so that we can lay it down at His feet. And we’ll find that the Lord will still meet our own needs even with the loss. Because we acknowledge that it wasn’t ours to begin with, we realize it wasn’t never meant to be used for our own gain. We can use what we’ve been given by God to partner with Him, or to build our own kingdom.

If we give out of our own abundance, all we can give is what man has to offer. By this I don’t mean so much the amount that we can give or do give, but more the attitude of our heart in giving. If in pride we give believing the gift we have provided out of our own resource will accomplish something great, we have limited that gift to man’s ability as opposed to God’s ability. What God has to offer is so much better than what man has to offer. The rich give out of their own resource. The poor in spirit, the ones who recognize that apart from Christ they have nothing of value to offer, out of the storehouses of heaven give what they could not afford. In simpler terms, a gift given in Love and Humility, both greatly impacts the human heart and supplies the practical need of an individual. We are called to give what God has to offer. Jesus gave from the resources of heaven and He fed thousands in various occasions with just one individual’s lunch, and they still had food left over after all had eaten and were satisfied!

God is not interested in what we can give Him. He deserves more than what we can give to Him. So He gives us from His supply, that we may give back to Him.

“When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” 

The next discipline that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 6 was prayer. He tells His disciples what not to do, in whose ways not to walk in, and then He proceeds to tell them what to do. The Pharisees walked in the ways of man, and therefore sought to please or impress men. Jesus walked in the ways of God and He sought to please the Father. He invited His disciples to do the same. He invited us into conversation with the Father. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13).

It is hard to speak to someone who is either not listening, or not responding. God didn’t ask us simply to talk to Him, but also to listen to Him. He is listening, and He will respond. If we speak to God without any expectation that He will respond, prayer can be a boring thing. Without that expectation, most times prayer will be dry. It was never meant to be a monologue, or a journal entry. God wants to speak. He wants to interact with us. Hebrews 11:6 says “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God (he who prays) must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” He who comes to God must believe that He will respond and will therefore diligently seek Him. When prayer becomes an experience then it will be enjoyable. As Mel Tari wrote in his book “Like a Mighty Rushing Wind” “In science we must experience believe, but in the Kingdom we must first believe to experience” (Paraphrase).

How can we be like someone we don’t know? And how can we know someone we do not converse with? Jesus said “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). It is through conversation that we get to know Him and by following Him that we get to know His ways. When we believe God, we experience Him. When we experience we get to know Him. He wants us to experience.

“When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

Fasting is commonly used by many, to be seen by peers as spiritual. Though this is a big temptation, it is not the purpose of fasting and it actually hinders the benefits and rewards that are promised with fasting. Seeing and understanding that temptation in His days, Jesus taught His disciples to look for the Father’s approval and not men’s.

Fasting is a major tool for sensitizing our spirits to the Father’s will, to hear His voice with greater clarity. With all the clatter and all the distractions in this generation, turning off many of those things that call for our attention allows us to quite down and receive from the Lord. As we detain from momentary pleasures, even legitimate things such as food, we make room for that which is eternal. We don’t fast to earn something, Jesus already paid the price, but we fast to position our hearts to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say. There is spiritual gain that is experienced through fasting, and it comes as the Holy Spirit reveals the things that have been freely given to us (1 Corinthians 2:12).

God has great plans for our lives. He wants to empower us and use us for His Glory and here is the Way; Intimacy. That is what we were really made for. Doing the works, and seeing God move in our lives, is meant to be a continuation of that intimacy. It is to flow out off intimacy and into intimacy. The works are supposed to proceed from us being near to God, and are to be an expression that we do together with Him. We can walk in power and do great things without knowing Him, but then we will be missing the very purpose of our existence. God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden and His desire to continue to do so with humanity has not changed. He has a Way, and has consecrated it for us (Hebrews 10:19) in order that we will actually walk with Him in it. Let’s walk with Jesus, let’s follow Him.

Sermon on the Mount – The Way Everlasting Pt. 3

Before Jesus taught on the mountain He had called Peter, Andrew, James and John. He said to them, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19,22). Jesus did what He saw His Father doing and He invited His disciples to do the same; to walk where He walked and to do what He did. In order for His disciples to walk well with Him, Jesus taught them the Way. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) Jesus lays out for us the values of the Kingdom, and spells out His Glory. What He really does in His teaching, is to describe the way that He leads His own life, the guiding principles to every step He takes.

Surrounding the Sermon are the works of power that Jesus performed. At the center of these acts of power was the essence from which overflowed such works. They overflowed from His Love and they were evidence of the authority that He walked in as the Son of God. This teaching was imperative, lest the disciples should walk in the power of God but not in His ways. Jesus warned that there would be those who would do so to their own destruction. Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:22-23). Not only did He declare that He never knew them, but also that they were those who practiced lawlessness. The Lord knows everything about everyone but is only intimately acquainted with those who spend time in His presence with those who walk with Him, in His Way.

 “And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (parakaleo– to call near). Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.                                     

Matthew 5:1-11

 These are the Kingdom values: The poor are rich, The broken are desired, The meek are royal heirs, The hungry and thirsty are satisfied, The merciful are shown mercy, The pure are enlightened, The peace makers are adopted by God, And The persecuted are enthroned. Those who build their own kingdom on earth receive nothing from it in eternity. Those who seek their own glory on earth find dissatisfaction on earth and destruction in eternity. Those who use the power of God for their own gain will hear Him say “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” The Ways of God and His Glory are inseparable. We cannot pick one or the other.

Poor in spirit – When we acknowledge our desperate need for Him, then the riches of His Kingdom are readily available to us. Mourn – When we weep for the things that He also weeps for, He calls us near to Himself. Meek – When we use our strength to love, to serve and to prefer others, He gives us the things that many use their strength to fight for. Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness – When we desire to be like Him, He nourishes us with the bread of revelation and gives us wine and milk from His table (Isaiah 55:1). Pure in Heart – When we devote all our heart, affections, and attention to Him, He opens our eyes to see Him. Peacemakers – When we live in a place of peace and it overflows to people and circumstances around us, He identifies us with Himself as His sons. Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake – When we are treated like the scum of the earth because of righteousness, He promotes us in His Kingdom into a place of authority.

All of these Jesus experienced and embodied. From His complete devotion to the Father He saw what the Father was doing and did it. This brought the Father Glory. And we are likewise called to share in His nature. He said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Jesus identifies us with Himself when He calls us the light of the World. This is what we are to be, light. We are not to seek to bring attention to ourselves, but to reflect Him in such a way that when people see us they first think of Jesus and not of us. We should not hide for fear of what those in darkness will think of us if they find that we are not in agreement with them. Not that we try real hard to shine either. We already are light, we don’t strive to be bright or to show others that we are bright. We just don’t hide it.

This is not something that we can cause from our own ability and ingenuity. He has to make His face to shine on us. Now, since He has given us access to Himself, we can position ourselves to behold Him and become like Him. Rather than being empty flashlights trying to find some power in ourselves to shine forth His light. We can be mirrors that continually have our gaze set on Him, reflecting His Beauty (Psalm 27:4).

Jesus further exposes man’s ways in opposition to His own when He challenges the standards of righteousness in His day. Those perverse standards are still the same today for many who trust in their own righteousness and not Christ’s. “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ but I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire… You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart… Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.’ Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black… You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also… You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and bless those who curse you, pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?… Therefore you shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:20-22, 27-28, 31-36, 38-39, 43-46, 48). His words speak for themselves.

After each of these six challenges except for one, Jesus teaches an appropriate response for each. Concerning murder in the heart He teaches that we first reconcile with our brother before we worship. If someone has something against you, for which you are guilty, humble yourself, agree with them and apologize (Matthew 5:23-26). Concerning adultery in the heart Jesus teaches that we cut off anything that causes us to stumble. If your iPhone causes your eye to sin, crush it with a hammer and throw it away (v. 29-30). Concerning oaths He teaches that we not swear at all, but be faithful to keep our words (v. 37). Concerning an evil person He teaches that we lay down our lives and not resist the plundering of our goods (v. 40-42) (see Hebrews 10:34). Concerning our enemies, “those who hate us and spitefully use and persecute us” (v. 44), He teaches us to love them, to bless them, and to pray for them that we may be sons of our Father (v. 44-45). That we may be those who walk in His ways.

Walking in the Light of His Gaze – The Way Everlasting Pt. 2

Walking in the Light of His Gaze

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways”

Isaiah55:8

God’s value system is different than ours. The mindset that is according to the flesh esteems temporal things while the mind that is set according to the Spirit esteems the things that are eternal. The mind that has not been renewed by the Spirit, values, for example: money, good reputations, positions, gain even if not justly, praise from men, instant gratification, etc. Some of these things are not bad, but the pride and selfishness in the human heart that longs for these are harmful and contrary to God.

Jesus teaches us to live a secret life before the Father, not necessarily hiding from men, but doing things primarily for the Father to see rather than for men to be impressed by them. The truth is that things done before the Lord, are usually not brought to the spotlight before men whose eyes are fixed on the temporary. “Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5). It is neither valued nor understood by them and they do not give it much attention. When people see that you do not indulge in their sinful ways many times it is offensive and even repulsive to them. What they do see is blinding and even bothersome to those whose deeds are of the darkness. “… Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

Many times when we hear the word “Glory” in the context of the manifest presence of God we think of things like Moses’ face shining, or a cloud filling the temple. But again, what was that light that was coming forth from Moses’ face? Why was it so disturbing to the people of Israel? It was the same light that Christ came shining but the Israelites rejected it. “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, (the Hebrews in the wilderness,) not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (Hebrews 4:2). It exposed the inner workings of their hearts.

Moses could boldly and humbly write about himself in Numbers 12:3, “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” The reason he could say that about himself is that he was reflecting the Light. He radiated the likeness of God. That was the Light that offended his generation so that they asked him to cover his face, and that same veil lies over those who have not yet entered into the New Covenant, “the new and living way, which He (Jesus) consecrated for us, through the veil, that is His flesh” (1 Corinthians 3:16; Hebrews 10:20). The same veil remains on those who have not stepped by faith through the finished work on the Cross. God has an opinion, His presence has a conviction, those who are not in agreement with Him despise who He is. If you think that you love God, but hate your brother, you are not in agreement with Him and have deceived yourself (1 John 4:20). This is the essence of Light, the essence of who He is “God is Love” (1 John 4:16).

How many people talk about love, and think they actually are in agreement with Him. The Scriptures paint a picture of Love that most people are completely unaware as they romanticize the substance of love to be something that benefits them without costing them their lives. Something kind and cuddly, that is completely gentle towards them or even towards others and the poor, but what about becoming that substance. What about being that gentle comfort to others, what about taking a hold of that substance instead of leaving it as an ethereal concept floating around in the air while no one actually embodies it. Here is a painting of this Love in the scriptures:

“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

Philippians 2:1-8

In how much agreement are we really with this substance, with Love? It’s much easier to be a recipient of such love and such selflessness from others, but what about a reciprocator of such Love? It’s easy to dream of a better world, but who will come into agreement with the Light, that brings evil to shame, and turn to follow this Light in the Everlasting Way. “Nevertheless, when one turns to the Lord the veil is taken away…” No matter how much you try, you will find yourself lacking this Love and unable to reciprocate it without turning to the Lord. You will never be able to reflect a Light you are not beholding. Unless you are willing to take the burn of Beholding true Beauty and allowing Him to transform you into His likeness from Glory to Glory (2 Corinthians 3:16-18).

The light “makes manifest” (Ephesians 5:13) exactly what is in the heart of an individual. Greed, selfish ambition, pride, lust, etc. When those things are exposed, when Light comes in, we have a choice to make. Will we hide and be condemned, or will we agree with the essence of this Light and turn from our wicked ways and walk in the Light? “For (if you are in Christ) you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth…” (Ephesians 5:8-9). Adam and Eve hid from this light and most of humanity followed in their footsteps.

Now we have a choice that has not been readily available to every generation after Adam. We can turn to Jesus! Through Jesus we can go where sinful man is not permitted. We can walk in the Light of His Gaze unashamed. Unashamed not because of our goodness but because the Blood of Jesus Christ actually cleanses us from sin. “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh (He died on the Cross), and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19-22). We can draw near to Him, behold Him, and be transformed by Him!

If you do not know that assurance of faith, and that freedom from an evil conscience I invite you, put your trust in Jesus. Talk with Him, because He is alive and tell Him: “I believe in you Jesus Christ, I believe you died on the Cross 2000 years ago and you resurrected from the dead three days later, give me assurance of faith, cleanse me from an evil conscience.” If you cannot find the strength of trust to tell Him that, ask Him for it.

If you know Jesus but have hidden areas in your heart. Selfish ambitions, lust, etc. And you find that the way, Love, is not prevalent in your life, agree with the Light. Confess those sins to someone you trust who will encourage you and push you to seek the Lord more. And spend time Beholding Him. He will transform you in His Presence.

The Way Everlasting

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

The Way of God is His Glory. It carries the full weight of His person, it is who He is. Many people desire and enjoy the benefits of His presence but they themselves do not partake of the fruit in it and began to carry the weight of His Way. Many enjoy the Lord’s Kindness and Mercy, yet they themselves do not become kindness and mercy to those around them. They do not realize that everything in this world will perish except for those qualities that come from an Eternal Kingdom that cannot be shaken. Therefore they spend their lives striving to attain some earthly reputation and an earthly treasure. Only those things that reflect His image will remain.

When we praise God we exalt His greatness. His greatness being, not only that He created the Heavens and the Earth, but that He being all powerful restrains Himself because He is Love. That He being powerful is gentle and merciful.

Hebrews 1:3 says about Jesus that “He is the brightness of His (the Father’s) Glory, the express image of His person.” What was Jesus emanating? What was the light that proceeded from His being, here on earth? It was the Way of the Father. It was the likeness of God that Jesus was emanating. He came and served as a humble servant. He came shinning Meekness, Humility, Kindness, Mercy, Compassion, Justice, Patience, Joy, Goodness, Self-control, Faithfulness, and Love. This is His Way.

Moses cried out to God as he pleaded with the LORD to have mercy on Israel and to not depart from them. He cried out, “If I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight…” (Exodus 33). Four verses later he says “Please show me Your Glory” (Exodus 33). In response to these requests God said to him that He would place him in the cleft of the rock, and there make His Goodness pass before him. There He would proclaim His Name to Moses. When He did, this is what He said, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

This is what Jesus reflected, this was the light that the world rejected. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of man. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” “This is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 1:4-5; 3:19). This light shined beyond actions and words but into the depths of the human heart and those in darkness wanted nothing to do with that which exposes and makes their wickedness manifest (Ephesians 5:13).

Jesus was speaking to a teacher of the law, Nicodemus, when He declared the condemnation of those who loved the darkness rather than the light. It was because their deeds were evil that they rejected the light. They may have been doing good things, but those deeds were defiled with the wicked intentions and desires of their hearts. Many of the ones who rejected Him were the ones that apparently did all the right things, the religious of His day. His Word discerns not simply the outward but especially the internal, the intentions and motives of the heart (Hebrews 4:12-13).

He showed extravagant mercy, and to those who will not repent He will give their due recompense as proclaimed in Exodus 34. He is the exact representation of the Father, and He has called us to be the same. We were made to display His likeness, to carry His image (Genesis 1:26; Colossians 3:10).

This image that we are to carry is not earthly and it is not outward, but it is an internal reality. It is not buying an expensive tuxedo that says Jesus on it, or even wearing a smile on our faces. But it is the true overflowing of Love from our hearts. It is gained and displayed in a place that is hidden to the natural eye. It is hidden in the secret place and it is to the Father’s delight. It is primarily for His pleasure rather than for our own elevation. Some people may never see the good intentions of your heart but the Father will see it. Others with impure motives may be promoted at times while you may remain in the background but your life becomes not about yourself or about what others think about you, but you begin to live a life before the audience of One.

You begin to experience the hidden life that Jesus lived, “Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being founding appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). Did you come to Christ to gain riches, and have a good reputation? To be known as being a good person? Are you religious so that men can look up to you?

We get so caught up in doing the right things and in fulfilling the appearance we feel we ought to have, that we don’t ever actually exude Christ likeness. We fit the part to the eyes that see outwardly but Christ is not truly formed in us. We may not yell vanity at the person that inconvenienced us, but our hearts exude hatred and bitterness. Instead of saying it audibly with our mouths, we may smile while violently cursing them inside.

It is not enough to do good things, or to be, apparently, a good person or even a good Christian, but we must know the Man Jesus. The One who is the exact representation of the Father. We must behold Him and become like Him. When the Presence of the Lord shows up, and God moves in your midst, that is the time to linger and wait on Him. Many times God shows up and we don’t have time for Him, or we run to tell someone of the sight. When the bush was burning but not being consumed, Moses turned. “When one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image form glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:16-18).

You begin to act and resemble those you get around. If you go to a bar and there are many smoking, you will come out smelling like smoke. Likewise when you get around Jesus you will begin to resemble and smell like Him. The only Way to be like Him, to exude the Way of the Father, is to behold the Man, Jesus. To know Him and thereby to become like Him.

Emanating His Way is both conscious decision and the overflow of a new and empowered nature. Goodness, mercy, patience etc., are just not a natural human qualities in this fallen world. But in Christ we are new creations. We choose to walk in kindness and humility. By the power of the Holy Spirit we choose to agree with who we truly are, and in beholding His Glory, we are continually transformed into His likeness. This is when we really begin to enjoy His kindness and Mercy and become it to those around us. When we begin to partake of the fruit in His presence, and to carry the weight of His Way.

It’s all about a ‘Relationship’ with Jesus?

It’s All about a ‘Relationship’ with Jesus?

Many people talk about the importance of having a relationship with God. And they will even say to their unbelieving or religious friends, “it’s all about a relationship with Jesus.” If I may, I want to challenge that idea. Often times that relationship we are talking about is centered around ourselves. It’s Jesus being our friend but not us being His friend. But let me tell you something, God has real emotions… He has real desires. And just how you enjoy it when your friends do things with you, God wants you to do things with Him. Just how you are comforted when a friend knows your sorrows, and overjoyed when a friend rejoices in your victories. Even so God wants those who will share in the fellowship of His sufferings and in the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10).

If you are not continually entering into the knowledge of His emotions and into the power available to change lives around you. If you are not aware of His presence with you day to day, I want to challenge you about what kind of relationship you truly have with Him. Jesus said, “No longer do I call you servants because a servant does not know His Master’s business, but I have called you friends, for all things I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). There are things today that God wants to speak to you about. There are real things that He wants to do in and through your life. Will you position yourself before Him to hear His voice? Will you get away from the roar of this culture, from the distraction of entertainment, from the temptations of sin, and like Mary of Bethany sit before Him? Will you open the Bible and position yourself to encounter the Living Word? Jesus gives us the key to walking in true friendship with Himself in John 15. He says that we need to abide in Him, that means to dwell, to live in Him. Go into His presence and don’t come out. This does not mean that you are constantly feeling goose-bumps, but that you are constantly aware that He who has desires and emotions is all around you.

He cares about you, your emotions, your desires, your problems. He is interested in the things that you do and wants to be with you when you do them. He wants to be involved in your life. But I’m afraid that the self-centered relationship we so often talk about, not realizing how much it truly is centered around us, does not make room either for us to care for Him, or for us to truly know that He cares for us.

Friendship requires time. One of God’s love languages is Quality Time. There is no way you can know someone you don’t spend time with. And your relationship with a person will go deeper as you spend more time with them, time full of quality with them. Where your attention is fixed on that individual and not halfway paying attention while you respond to a text message. This is the exhortation. Go deep with God. Truly be in relationship with Him. He is alive, He is not dead and therefore you can get to know Him. He shed His blood on the Cross and when you repent of your sins and believe in Him you are righteous and have access into His presence. Get in there. Seek His Face.

The Lord wants to heal the sick around you. He wants to bring them peace, joy and love. All those fruits come from encounter, from continual encounter with God in the place where it is just you and Him. A personal relationship is not just on Sunday mornings, but what about on your way to work, in your bedroom for an hour of seeking His Face… etc. What about in Walmart when He wants to speak through you to the registrar, or heal the old man limping by? What about when He shows you His sorrow for your pastor’s marriage and desire to restore his marriage and give him peace. And the Lord has you pray for him daily? Or His desire to end abortion in the United States.

Two weeks ago the Lord told me that I was going to meet someone with problems in his right hip. I was witnessing at different stores, and at one point I approached a Hispanic man. The Lord told me that he was the one with the issue in the right hip. I asked him about it and then asked him if I could pray for him right there. When we prayed the presence of God filled the place and he was healed. He moved around and could no longer feel the pain he had had before we prayed. Glory to God! God is calling us to friendship and let me tell you, It’s a lot of fun!