I Want To Know What Love Is

Jesus smooshes all the law and the prophets up into two commandments, The Great Commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and smoothly adds a second critical commandment which doesn’t directly focus on God but on people, saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I synthesize those into:

“Love God first and best, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Many self described Christians will claim to be living that fully enough, speaking words out, serving often, singing songs to God, etc. Interestingly, these were not things Jesus mentioned (although we would all agree they are good parts that go into this). What did Jesus say? How did Jesus describe what He recognizes and affirms as love?

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” – Jesus

I appreciate how forthrightly Jesus speaks, when it comes right down to it. “Obey Me… THAT’S how we’ll BOTH know that you love me, like you say you do.” When we do anything other than obedience (even sacrifice), we aren’t demonstrating to Jesus that we love Him. But how easy it can be for us to fool ourselves into thinking that we are really going the distance and being a loving partner with Him. This makes me nervous… and sad… for Jesus… and for you.

Imagine the heartbreak within Someone called, “The Lover of our souls,” continually reaching out to us, coming alongside us any time we call, fixing up our broken lives, building us up, giving us favor, providing everything we need – both materially and physically, and receives in return from us… what? What does He get from us? Let’s wrestle with this, honestly, and scripturally for a minute, as an exercise like in a marriage class.

• We may “go to church” (but American’s aren’t very steady to show up even once a week – so, forget marriage, we aren’t even “going steady.”)

• And what “church” do we choose for ourselves (because we like it, not necessarily because Jesus actually called us to gather and integrate as family there)? The country club experience? The easy in, easy out, no one knows me, I don’t have to get real with anyone, or deal with their mess? The all show, no “go” (Matt. 28:19-20), short service, high on multimedia and “professional” presentation, big following, Instagramable, on-campus-café, activities for kids of all ages at all times – anything so they don’t bother the adults, zero accountability, cheap grace, half-gospel church?

• Since we’re ‘going there,’ we can discuss the elements of the service, too. When we ‘worship,’ is God the focus, showering Him with praise and adoration, vulnerable and thankful, inviting Him in His fulness to change us? Or is it, more often than not, the songs about what we get out of this ‘relationship’ with Christ? Are the songs about I/me/my/us/our or You/Yours? Are our prayers desperate to discover and adopt His will as our lifestyle or are they selfish, “I’m not here to change… YOU change… ‘Lord’” prayers?

We could seek The Lord in prayer and ask Him to lead us to a gathering of believers (WHO are actually the “Church”) so we can bear one another’s burdens, weep with those who weep, rejoice with those who rejoice, fulfill the law of Christ? But do we, when it may limit us from making the easy choice to consume church rather than become the Church?

Now, that was a lot to process. And really, Jesus has always communicated, “hey, show Me you love Me by trusting Me to lead you. Do what I instruct. Care enough to ask, then follow through. Simple.”

If we think we trust Jesus enough for Heaven, but not enough to obey Him on earth, we’re in trouble.

Has Jesus ever had to question your love? Have you recognized Him questioning your love… to your face? He did with Peter. #awkward

What if that confrontation took place today, as you quieted your mind and heart and talked to Him about your relationship? Would you be willing to hear that you have some areas to focus attention on? Or would your soul squirm and reject the truth He presents?

I encourage you to carve out some time right away to sit at the Master’s feet, asking Him what He wants to say to you, while you patiently listen and really hear Him. After all… He loves you with everything He is. Will you show Him love today? (Your level of obedience will tell.)

HELP! (I Need Somebody… Not Just Anybody)

Do you ever find yourself struggling to get through all the loads of work you have to do? If your answer is, “CONSTANTLY,” keep reading.

Do you get to the end of your day and are struck by the horrifying reality, “I DID NOT SPEND ANY TIME WITH JESUS OR ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING FOR HIM!” If so, does it bother you? Or maybe you feel too busy to entertain it for very long. Maybe you hit services at your church (hearing messages that let you off the hook for such disengagement) that you feel satisfied and content to let it all ride how things are. (But I hope not…)

For anyone who wants to live every day (seeking to and accomplishing) pleasing The Lord with our witness, our work, our fellowship, and our obedience, we have to confront the stark realities of our current condition:

We have no margin – largely because we choose not to have any, or we don’t count entertainment as margin. This is a huge problem because it costs us so much more than we realize. Spending time with other believers, searching and studying the scriptures together, meeting each other’s needs, weeping and rejoicing together… that’s completely off the table without margin. Serving whatever gathering of believers you belong to… nope. (And forget about leading anybody and becoming a high-octane team.) Sitting at the feet of Jesus to hear His instructions for your day during your morning devotions… not likely.

Which brings us to Luke 10, where Mary sits at the feet of Jesus and hears Him speak His wise, loving, compassionate instructions over her life. This all happens at her sister, Martha’s house. So while Mary is getting ministered to (served), Martha is distracted with much serving. The tasks she has are becoming overwhelming to her (or worse, she has an attitude of ‘I sure won’t be the only one serving around here’), and she lashes out… AT JESUS! No word to Mary, you see, but going straight to the top… “Jesus, don’t you CARE?!” Practically, “are you blind to what’s happening before your very eyes?” As if nobody would allow THIS injustice, THIS indignity… someone devoting themselves to Jesus and His will while she works.

Well, she’s in for a shock when Jesus doesn’t straighten up and meet her demands. In fact, He has some words of instruction for Martha and commendation for Mary. So as He compassionately addresses this unfortunate situation, created by the frustrated Martha, He speaks her name, twice, and enlightens her to her own plight, not of overwork, necessarily, but of poor prioritizing. It’s as if she were aiming to please Emily Post before Jesus Christ. He sees and expresses how visible it is to those around her that she is “anxious and troubled about many things,” despite one thing being necessary. All that troubles her is superfluous, unnecessary. WOW! Imagine being told that all you’ve scheduled for yourself is unnecessary… essentially wrong. And (from her perspective in this emotional state) adding insult to injury, Jesus continues to affirm Mary’s decision to spend time with Him, hearing what He has to say, calling it “the good portion,” in contrast to her unnecessary portion, and then adding that it will not be taken away from her.

But here’s where I have some tenderness toward Martha (besides the fact that I’m constantly busy), is she had no idea. No idea that what she was investing in was unnecessary, no idea that Mary’s sitting at Jesus feet was not only better, but “good,” which we know to mean complete and lacking nothing. It is likely that her paradigm was the problem, not her heart. She wanted to serve and was striving towards it… and not just serve, but serve JESUS! She just didn’t realize that serving Him best meant what Mary was doing, not what Martha knew to do.

Has anyone ever told you that you likely waste a lot of time and energy and resources on superfluous pursuits? (Doesn’t seem likely, not even in churches that purport to be “on mission,” “about the Father’s business,” etc. while ignoring Jesus’ commands, but that is an entirely different post.) Our lives, especially in America, may contain so much waste – wasted time, energy, resource, potential. And, frankly, we prefer it this way… otherwise, we’d have changed by now from being Marthas to being Marys. The truth is, to please our Lord, we MUST change.

The big question, always, is how? The answer will vary from person to person, and would be impossible for me to detail your specific situation… good thing we have an all-knowing, personal God who loves to interface with each of His children. While I will provide some general, catch-all tips that are likely to strike some sort of chord with you and your lifestyle, the best way to start is to earnestly begin seeking The Lord in daily, prayer. Dwell with Him by reading The Word (Bible), dwell with Him in conversation in prayer, not just talking and asking for stuff, but listening to His response, His direction. And whatever you do, don’t stop at hearing! Jesus tells us in Luke 6, “whoever comes to Me, hears My sayings, and does them…” as a recipe for a solid life. Don’t leave out the doing part. Unfortunately, this is the most missed component of Jesus’ recipe.

Once you’ve prayed and have direction (that doesn’t contradict the scriptures, because God will never deny Himself, or lie, or tempt, or deceive), you get up and immediately do what He says* (including “wait until ____ to…”). Immediately act or prepare or be comfortable waiting for that opportunity He’s either told you or will show you when the moment arrives.

And, for Heaven’s sake, don’t look to yourself or other people as your answer… look to The Lord. Trust in The Lord with all your heart. Don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge/trust Him and He will direct your paths. Neither you (nor I) nor your friends are as trustworthy and faithful and competent and powerful as God, so put your stock in Him. So many fall into the trap of looking in the natural for their answer. “If I only had _____, then I could…” Whatever you put in that space is your idol du jour, and we shall have no other gods besides our Lord, the only living God. One may say, “but I need help, and at this point, I don’t care where it comes from.” But that, dear ones, is a recipe for disaster. Quick question: has anyone ever let you down? If so, then you already know how fickle the aid of man can be. You don’t need just anybody, you need The Lord. Rely on God to be your help.

You don’t need just anybody, you need The Lord. Rely on God to be your help.

Doesn’t the scripture say, “God is… our very present help in time of need?” (Yes. Yes it does. In Psalm 46.) So admitting you need help is wise. But don’t waste that wisdom forsaking God’s willing and able help. In fact, in Philippians 2:13, the Bible says that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” He helps you accomplish it, and He even helps you WANT to accomplish what He’s assigned you. HALLELUJAH!

So my few general tips to help a true follower of Jesus (disciple) to alter their lives to fulfill their God-given purpose and please Him daily:

  1. Pray
  2. Look at your calendar and schedule time to “sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him”
  3. Consider making a time journal, making note of how you spend every hour of your day (weekday and weekend)
  4. Consider limiting entertainment/media/hobbies, particularly if those have become more precious than dwelling in the secret place of The Most High WITH The Most High
  5. Ask someone you trust to walk alongside you and at least hold you accountable for the changes, if not also participating in adjusting their lives simultaneously

There could be more widely applicable tips, but let’s start with these and see where God brings us. I’m confident that His Word will prove true in your new life:

“…the one who reaps is receiving wages”
“Open your mouth wide, and [God] will fill it”
“…none who wait for [God] shall be put to shame”
“And behold, [Jesus is] with you always, to the end of the age”

I believe in you, child of God. Now, don’t delay. Get after it right away and just see what wonders come!

Come Unto Me

While I’m tempted to post something about the holidays and how this time of year can bring such despair, I won’t, because let’s be honest – hopeless bleak despair can be all around all the time in the heart of practically anyone, whether we see it or not. That heaviness that accompanies the burdens people carry are a fact of life and, hear me on this, people are not meant to live under heavy burdens because Jesus offers “light and easy.”

“People are not meant to live under heavy burdens because Jesus offers light and easy.”

Look at His exact words in Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

So, if Jesus is to be believed (and He IS), EVERYONE striving under heavy burdens is invited to Jesus by Jesus so that they can find rest for their souls. What capacity, Jesus! What welcome… what love! It’s like there’s a real solution for all this heaviness in the world. Yep!

It seems to me that there are two reasons why people remain laboring and heavy laden: 1) Christians haven’t told them there is this hope found in the Scriptures; 2) They know what it says but won’t believe it. Now, you and I can’t force anyone to believe, so #2 is on them, but #1 surely is our responsibility. After all Jesus went away, commissioning us to continue His work on the earth to communicate just this sort of beautiful promise, believing that not only would we earnestly and consistently obey Him in telling people how good He is, but that it would absolutely WORK!

The actual, concise, Great Commission from Jesus to His followers (/disciples/Christians) is found in Matthew 28:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Pare that down some more and we get to the crux of our obligation to a hurting world – “teaching them.” Let’s get real practical… I dare you to ask me to teach you about the French Revolution (sorry, been listening to a lot of Coldplay lately). I have absolutely no clue about it, although I could probably sing a showtune or two from Les Misérables, if that would help. (That’s about the French Revolution, right?) No term paper would be accepted with my diatribe about the plight of little Gavroche. This all means that I’d be useless as a teacher on the French Revolution because I don’t know anything real about it. So what do we make of “Christians” who have been tasked with teaching “the world” / [people who haven’t yet begun following Jesus] to obey everything Jesus commanded His followers to be about?

Graciously, let me start to answer that with one caveat… brand new Christians generally only know a tiny amount, so they couldn’t teach (for very long) about how to obey Jesus. BUT they can teach whatever they DO know. And we are all meant to continue learning and teaching, according to the actual, concise description of the Church, found in Acts 2:42: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Devoting ourselves to The Apostles’ Teaching is so… meta. The very thing we are meant to do in the 21st century is exactly what they were doing in the 1st century – learn about and teach about Jesus. It’s like, “hey, everybody, we gotta give our lives to learning about Jesus so we can give our lives to teaching about Jesus, and we’re gonna learn it from people who gave their lives to learn about Jesus and teach about Jesus. (And in many cases GAVE their lives because of teaching about Jesus.)”

I won’t delve into all the beauty and wonder of learning directly from The Holy Spirit, but I will say that God won’t lead you any way contrary to His written Word. (see 2 Peter 1:19-21)

God won’t lead you any way contrary to His written Word.

Just for good measure, I’ll throw in another Scripture related to this (helpful for good doctrine building), Romans 10:14-15, How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Since Jesus, now in Heaven at the right hand of God, making intercession for you and me to accomplish that Great Commission on earth in His stead, is not physically here to shout out to people, “COME UNTO ME… I’LL GIVE YOU REST,” we’ve got to do it. My gut (and a bunch of experience) tells me that the reason Christians don’t do any of this is that they don’t know enough about Jesus, and that creates anxiety about teaching anybody anything about Him, much less calling them to wholehearted sacrifice and life-long obedience to His unchangeable commands.

Here’s the calculus on this:
God gave us the Word (both in the flesh as Jesus and in text form as The Bible)
The Word gives us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3)
The Word contains our calling, our job, our role on this earth
(Amazingly comprehensive and generous of God)
Most Christians, in turn, don’t invest much if anything in The Word (in relationship, and even just reading)
So we don’t know what it says, what our role is, what we have available to give
Thus we don’t help ourselves, much less others, because of willful ignorance
(Not so great on our part)

But we aren’t doomed to this fate, just because it is rampant among self-described Christians. We can choose to invest daily in The Word, drawing close to Jesus with a growing devotional life which includes prayer, reading The Bible, meditating/listening for God’s instructions, obedience to said instructions [often defined as “ministry”].

I say, we become the change needed for hopeless, heavy-hearted people, because we’ve always been and will always be Jesus’ chosen answer for them. He gave us everything we need – up to and including Himself – and continues to give by the power of His Spirit, reminding us what He’s taught us, so when we encounter someone who needs a welcome embrace from Jesus, they find it ready in you, and in me.

I say, we become the change needed for hopeless, heavy-hearted people, because we’ve always been and will always be Jesus’ chosen answer for them.

(And since we can’t follow everyone home and live with them, we can certainly introduce them to where all the answers can be found… The Word. Simply opening The Bible to a passage you remember that may help them and reading it together can do wonders – and the best part is, they can take THAT home with them and be encouraged all over again and again as often as they need. If you need to “google” a few words to remember where that Scripture lives, DO IT… if anything, it shows you’re human and that’s always relatable. 🙂

I don’t normally do this, but this Take 6 song – where the title of this post came from – may help you remember the scripture, the call, and even put you in that mindset of ease and rest. It’s as if Jesus is singing to you as 6 of the coolest people on the planet. 😉

You Are Not Alone

‘Tis the season… for holiday cheer, for brotherly love, for peace on earth and goodwill toward men… but we find that, in many cases, loneliness and sorrow creep up on people and cause this to be a time of grief and mourning, of hopelessness and despair. I must start off by not just acknowledging this but addressing it with the truth of God… that the whole reason for the season is that Jesus came to rescue anyone who will reach out to Him and welcome Him in!

The whole reason for the season is that Jesus came to rescue anyone who will reach out to Him and welcome Him in! #youarenotalone @toservemankind

Jesus says in John 15:14-16:

You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you…”

Proverbs 18:24 points to Jesus with, “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

In Revelation 3:20-21, we hear Jesus say:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquersI will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

In Romans, the apostle Paul instructs us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” We are not some fair-weather family, but we are in this life together to the end… through all the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the successes and failures, the delights and disappointments.

We all have our own load to carry, but there are times that we are burdened with more than we can handle alone. It’s in those times that we must open up and trust one another in humility to help us carry the burden until it lifts. In Galatians 6:2, the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul, instructs the family of God to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” And to be clear, I’ll reiterate that it isn’t only rejoicing with those who rejoice, but weeping with those who weep. Enter into another’s situation, their emotion, and appreciate that this is a difficult moment, and they shouldn’t be alone, because they have YOU.

This experience is not limited to any group of people. No one is excluded. Parishioner to pastor, plumber to president, people all need Jesus and all need spiritual family to strengthen and encourage them from time to time (and likely more often than we – or they – fully know).

The prophet Elijah experienced a tremendous victory over the so-called “prophets” of Baal, where he went overboard in proving the real God’s existence and power, with such bold ridicule of their false god, Baal, drenching the sacrifice over and over and inviting God into that circumstance. And then, seemingly mere moments later, fleeing to isolation, cowering in fear from the threats of Jezebel, imagining and subsequently feeling all alone, complaining to God about how terrible life is and asking to just die. THIS IS SERIOUS TALK! In The Church, we say, “faith speaks,” and it’s true, but I’ll tell you what is similarly true, “depression speaks.” Proverbs 18:21 cautions us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Same tongue, same speaker, but like the spring James writes about in chapter 3, verses 8-10, “no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” We can essentially curse ourselves when we allow our words to create negative, reinforced realities for ourselves. These things ought not be so.

This is where the beautiful demonstration of life together comes in from one brother to another, as they remind you how powerful and present God is… how vested and eager He is to help you… how He is worthy of such praise… because when you speak in faith of His faithfulness, you will receive those benefits. And so when a compassionate friend and brother comes to you with this encouragement from Hebrews 6, don’t despise him for it. And as you encourage WITH Hebrews 6, administer it gently. Verses 11-12, “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Tell Me Something Good

When God created everything, He called it all good. The earth, land, seas, atmospheres, vegetation, animals, humans… all of it – good. With His own mouth and His own words, His assessment was spoken out, and it was good. We know that not soon after, Satan gets Adam and Eve’s attention away from God and ruins things on earth for us all. However, Jesus has always had a plan to come back and redeem this fallen world and save mankind from eternal damnation and destruction by giving abundant life. Note: Satan’s job description is threefold – steal, kill, destroy. But Jesus isn’t satisfied leaving His delight in that predicament. So He comes back, born sinless on this planet, remains sinless through obedience to Father God, and allows Himself to be sacrificed, killed, to pay the price to release us from sin – the effects of what sin we have committed and from the power of sin over us into the future.

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus, is the One Who gives us commands on how to life this abundant life He talks about in John 10. And when Jesus makes or remakes something, you can bet it is gonna be good. This is what happens at the wedding in Cana, when His mother, Mary, tasks Him with fixing their little wine shortage, and it is what happens when Jesus fixes our holiness shortage, and our Great Commandment and Great Commission shortage. He remakes us into something infinitely better than when we started.

When Jesus makes or remakes something, you can bet it is gonna be good.

During your daily Bible reading, assuming you read the Bible every day – a necessary practice/discipline/eventual delight – do you find yourself seeing all the good available to you in the name of Jesus? Do you see potential opportunities for you to engage the lost, broken, sick and dying around you with the gospel and miracles? The Bible is full of good things, it is all profitable, all written for our learning, so we won’t be destroyed (for lack of knowledge). God has been speaking good forth as long back as we know that physical matter and natural laws have existed. He made sure we had a trustworthy, complete, written account full of history and instruction so we could “live good.”

Are you living good? (I know, I know… well.) Are you speaking good? Are you working, schooling, churching, neighboring, playing good? The only good way is God’s way. Good meaning, complete, lacking nothing. That’s the good God does. And He can do it in and through you… to others. Because it isn’t just for you, or just for me… we are sent ones, commissioned to walk with Jesus to complete His task of winning as many as possible into the Kingdom of God.

Jesus makes the best new wine and we are invited to not only drink of that new wine, but also take a bleak situation with nothing and find something and make it into that same best new wine because we live like Jesus. Could it be that what we’ve lived up to this point hasn’t been completely good? Perhaps God intends more and better for us in every way? It seems pretty clear that God wants good for us. Do you want good for you? It’s available.

Part of Your World

It seems to me that we don’t get the results Jesus got, or the results His disciples got, because we don’t engage the way they engaged. We don’t believe the way they (eventually) believed. Jesus ALWAYS believed – and He ALWAYS accomplished. For some strange reason, we struggle.

Maybe it’s because we’ve been taught wrong. Pulpits filled with pastors preaching partial truths, devoid of the power of the Holy Spirit, which is actually available to every believer. Jesus wants His people to be FILLED with His Spirit – and was so emphatic about it that not only did He command His followers to WAIT for the PROMISE before they went out, so they could help people WITH the Holy Spirit. They/we were never intended to “minister” or serve other people without the Holy Spirit. But that hasn’t stopped many many Christians from trying. Unfortunately, we all miss out on so much because of it.

We were never intended to “minister” or serve other people without the Holy Spirit. But that hasn’t stopped many many Christians from trying.

Maybe it isn’t because we’ve been taught wrong, but because we’ve never been taught anything. Maybe we’ve not read the Bible (which will convince you all by itself that the Holy Spirit is still alive, active, and ready to fill you to overflowing), or heard any preaching meant to build faith. But those who followed Jesus back then stayed for many days in prayer and expectation of this promised Holy Spirit.

Know that Jesus Himself, the God-Man, the Son of Almighty God the Father in Heaven, didn’t begin His ministry or do any miracles of any sort until AFTER His baptism in water and with the Holy Spirit. But once He was… it was off to the races! Because people needed Him… and they need you!

I think we can all agree that Jesus got results! During His teaching and mentoring ministry for His disciples, they had come upon a situation they couldn’t address, and Jesus told them why… “your unbelief.” So the antidote to impotence is faith. It is important to note that although they struggled that day, they didn’t struggle afterwards. Every other account is miracle, miracle, miracle.

Often, because we have personal histories full of “proof” against the power of God, we stop trying, instead of digging deep where we would discover some lack of faith, based on poor teaching or poor proximity to the truth. Once realized, it is an easy fix, like it was for the disciples. They needed their faith built. What we’ve been doing isn’t working!

Jesus says, “Cast your net (your catching implement) on the other side of the boat (at the wrong time of day) and you’ll find some (fish).” When we do things differently, we can enjoy different results. The results Jesus intends for us, spiritually, as we fish for people, is MULTITUDES OF PEOPLE COMING TO FAITH IN JESUS!

Don’t overcomplicate it. Let the Word speak the full truth to you and do what Jesus says. You will surely be successful in catching “some.” We all know that people aren’t flocking into churches or into faith or to follow Jesus. This is why we are SENT to GO make disciples, not sit around and wait for them to find you. When we follow Jesus, instead of following our own well-worn patterns, we’ll find ourselves accompanying Him TO people, and winning multitudes.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want (But If You Try Sometimes, You Might Just Find You Get What You Need)

So much to explore here today, such as:

Who do you see yourself as (in the Bible)? The person needing the healing or the person delivering the healing?

If you’ve been taught properly that you have the authority, do you walk boldly in your authority to live actively in the power of the Holy Spirit, or are you timid and withhold blessings God intends to deliver out of fear?

So often, Christians, who have been given authority to heal (and many other things in the name of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit) keep crawling to God’s throne, begging a little provision for themselves just to scrape by. I’m flabbergasted by this. This is a travesty! Jesus Himself (the One Who said, “IT IS FINISHED”), the One Who gave His followers authority to trample over all the power of the enemy, bring healing, deliverance, etc. is convinced that we can do it… and that we should – nay, MUST! Because when we don’t, hurting people are left hurting, without hope. How is that okay? Especially when the God-Man already PAID THE BILL for whatever they need?! IF it were me and I had gone through all the suffering, rejection, tortuous pain, and death to buy all the benefits for us to live abundantly and release others into that same abundant life, and then gave the authority to YOU to use only to see you NOT USING IT, I’d be beside myself!

“WHAAAAT?! They’re not even gonna try to use this?”

It’s as if we are okay with people staying bound and sick and depressed and dead. Well, I’m not okay with it. And I am relating to you today this message that Jesus people speak God’s Word boldly, expecting results, so much so that they reach out to others and lift them up from their sorry estate into abundant life.

The big question is, is that you? How do you live out this Christianity? Do others even know you are a Christian? When we abide in God’s Word, reading it daily and committing it to memory, we can then be reminded by the Holy Spirit what Jesus taught/commanded us and then we can speak boldly, because we didn’t write it – God did.

Many years ago at the Purpose Driven Worship Conference at Saddleback Church, I heard Bishop Joseph Garlington say, “Nothing happens in the Kingdom without something first being SAID.” That has stuck with me – everything from God creating, you know, EVERYTHING, to Peter and John giving this beggar miraculous use of his legs, to you and me performing miracles, happens by speaking words of faith, which comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.

My challenge to you is to STOP, take time with God, seeking what is lacking in your life and/or others’ around you, go to His Word (the Bible) and find out what He wants YOU to do and why you should have the confidence to do it, then… you guessed it – SPEAK IT OUT! CALL IT FORTH! MAKE IT HAPPEN!

My spiritual father and dear friend, Pastor Caleb Tyler said, “Faith speaks it… then walks away.” As in, I don’t need to babysit this thing, and wring my hands and hope it works, so I don’t look like an idiot here. It’s as good as done BECAUSE I SAID SO…

Now, that may freak you out, but follow the logic – Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth,” “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you,” “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”

The last thing we want is to get to Heaven and suddenly realize all the opportunities we ignored because we were timid, or ignorant, or complacent, or selfish. Instead, we want to enjoy eternity with so many that we chose to freely give to. You don’t need Jesus to ‘come down here and heal…” because He sent YOU to do it! So the question remains, “Why Not Just Speak?!”

The last thing we want is to get to Heaven and suddenly realize all the opportunities we ignored because we were timid, or ignorant, or complacent, or selfish.

Suddenly (Life Has New Meaning to Me)

Has your life ever changed for the better in a single moment? Maybe something you’ve longed for is realized and your heart is no longer sick by deferred hope. Someone you thought was lost is miraculously found and restored to you. The doctor reports, “we got it all.” Even receiving that voicemail stating, “you got the job.” I hope it has. And I hope it will again.

King Hezekiah was made king when he was 25, living all those years under his father, Ahaz, a bad king, who, incidentally, most likely killed his brother by making him pass through the fire, an idolatrous offering to demons. Most kids grow up and basically follow in the patterns of their parents, especially royal children. There is a standard, an expectation, and it is hard to buck the system. There’s also pride and vanity which further cloud issues pertaining to governance. Thankfully, Hezekiah’s mother saved him from sharing his brother’s unfortunate fate, and his heart was to follow Almighty God as he ruled the nation.

As I write this, I’m struck by the immediacy of two things: 1) The brand new (and somewhat young) king to implement radical, practical, cultural, spiritual changes in the very first year of his reign, and 2) how quickly God responded. 2 Chronicles 29:36 wraps up the story of putting the temple worship back in proper order under Hezekiah’s command and how “Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had provided for the people, for the thing came about suddenly.”

Part of what intrigues me about these scriptures is that God may just show up immediately, vouching, affirming, and blessing our immediate repentant and obedient intimations toward Him. This flies in the face of that lie, “I’ve done too much wrong, too much water under the bridge, to be forgiven and accepted by God.” For YEARS, these same people had done wrong, being led (and following) a corrupt and evil king. Yet the new and godly king starts putting things right in the very first year of his reign. And God not only provides for the people, but does so suddenly! By His swift action, we discover that God will show up for you in a hot minute, once you decide to follow Him (or follow Him again).

Did it take work? Yes. Did it require strength and leadership? Yes. It reminds me of a favorite scripture of mine from the opening line of Deborah’s song in Judges 5:2 (NKJV), “When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the Lord!”

Not only do we bless The Lord… HE BLESSES RIGHT BACK!!!

So this all begs an important practical question for your life… “Do I believe God will show up suddenly?” If not, what is our faith (or lack thereof) revealing? I do not believe God will ________. In the gospel of John, we see Jesus instructing His followers to “ask in My name,” promising that whatever it is, “I will do it for you.” Strong words… but they’re spoken by our Faithful and True Savior, Jesus. They are worthy of believing. Only by believing them can you experience the truth of them. Faith unlocks everything… even tightly, worldly locked things. Jesus has ALL the keys. Your faith unlocks your “suddenly.” Remember, “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 NKJV

Your faith unlocks your “suddenly.”

Harvester of Hearts

The ultimate Harvester, the One who recognized ripe harvests when He saw them, is also the One who commissions every follower of His to get out there immediately and start reaping it. Jesus is the premiere crop inspector and He knows precisely when to harvest, when to reap. He also knows when to till the ground (in prayer), plant seeds (of The Word), water them (with encouragement), and see people be moved to action (by His Holy Spirit) so they can be won into the Kingdom of God.

How often do people who fancy themselves followers of Christ miss the entire harvest of hearts simply because we don’t see the harvest as ripe, the fields as white, the people as ready. Jesus says, “people are absolutely ready to be invited (harvested, reaped, plucked out of darkness and drawn into light) by you, and your testimony, and your bold invitation.

In order to see how Jesus sees, we need a wake-up call, and Someone to direct our vision, attention and focus on this perfectly ripe harvest right in front of us.

Incidentally, praying for that discernment is part of His will and plan for you to discover your place and destiny, day by day… so don’t delay in asking Him for success in harvesting. Expect to hear God respond to you as you pray for direction who you are meant to reach, where they are, and when is best to go to them (in the soon/now timeframe).

One primary harvest field that is ripe for the picking is the young. Here’s why:

98% of professing Christians make that decision by the time they are 29 years old.

65% decide by the time they are 18. The data suggest the most profoundly massive and fruitful harvest field possible is the young. Perhaps God will lead you to pray at/over your kid’s school – or just the nearest school to you. We’ve adopted the schools in our city – and will see God move powerfully throughout a full instructional year of weekly prayer gatherings at school campuses. Our obedience opens the door for God to move how He intends. You must remember that city-changing moves of God are released by your diligent “yes.”

Other oft-ignored ripe harvest fields are among the poor, the international, the prisoners, and the sick. Consider asking God specifically about any of these areas and see if He stirs your heart to engage with any of these overlooked populations of lovable, redeemable people. Jesus wants us all. Do you?

Your Podcast Is Served

If you would rather listen to the material than watch it, please feel free to enjoy the podcast version, available now. I feel compelled to give you the links to all the places we serve up this podcast, despite any podcast listener knowing exactly how to search and obtain the podcast you want on your preferred platform. But, hey… we go the distance here, soooo…..

Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic

Here are the newest episodes, just in case you require a little taste before you commit… (How DOES he do it?)

If you love the Word of God and want more of it in your life, you’ve come to the right place. We are happy @toservemankind.