Love and Temptation (Intro)

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            Love is the focal point of the two greatest commandments of God.

(Matthew 22:36-40)   “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ’This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

            Love not only conveys the nature and desire of God but also acts as a means for our sanctification. Love will force us to face every temptation laid out in scripture: (1)Pride, (2)Greed, (3)Jealousy, (4)Lust; you name it. It is in the midst of that temptation that we come into a deeper dependence on God. Through love we must be willing to fight the temptations of this world that drive us to selfish desire and inward focus. (James 1:14) But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. We must put others before ourselves even if doing so causes us to suffer. It’s through love that we show the world God, and that we also grow closer to God by becoming as close to His unconditional love for us as we possibly can in our fallen human condition.

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(1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 

Following the Leader

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 Christians develop a sense of trust in people you they assume are more spiritually mature than they are. It might be a position in the church or some gray hair, but it’s healthy to seek wisdom as we attempt to grow in our faith and our knowledge of God. It is a sad fact that the fragile trust placed in people can be easily broken when the person extending that trust does so blindly or weakly. We should seek a spiritual health that allows us to reach out from a position of stability and not one of weakness. Reaching out from a position of knowledge and strength allows us to discern the counsel we receive and not be led astray, hurt, or discouraged by people that, we must remember, are as broken as we are. Even the most righteous of people are able to stumble in their walk. Some of them might not even notice they are stumbling and drag down those following as well. Proverbs 27:17 says: Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Our goal as we mature should not be blind dependence on leaders. We should desire to grow not only from their wisdom but from their mistakes. Done correctly we should be able to provide counsel as we sharpen each other. Our spiritual walk and growth with each other cannot be a one-sided affair. Be willing to contribute as you grow, willing to reach out to elders and leaders in love as we care for them in their inevitable weakness.

Being let down should spurn us to be better so that we can improve the kingdom as oppose to groveling about the matter or worst of all, falling away from God, in retaliation toward people we have to remember are fallen as well. When the scripture below speaks of avoiding them, I feeling it is better read as avoid the influence of poor counsel. Be the light that guides them back to the straight path of God. The only way to discern contrary counsel is to be diligent as we seek God so that we are available for Him to use where we are placed. Be ready to be the leader God needs you to be. Listen to God in child-like faith, listen to God’s children with discerning hearts and unfailing love.

(Romans 16:17-18)

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve.

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Let God Be God

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As we grow in our faith we have to grow in our understanding of God as well. Walking with Christ and serving His kingdom come with the responsibility to share with the world what God has given to you. God speaks different things into the hearts of His children. All of those things are in agreement with His word presented in the Bible. It’s a dangerous position to be in when people humanize God and find it acceptable to believe that He will waver from His position presented to us in scripture. God does not change, He does not need to. This world changes while God stays the same. People look for circumstances where God could have done better. That could never be the case. It’s in submission to God and His plan that we see where He leads us. It’s under the tutelage of this fallen world that we think we can know better than our Creator.

All people are vulnerable to this tendency of man. It’s inevitable that at one time or another each of us will fail to understand why events have unfolded a certain way. We ask God to change the circumstance and forget that His will is better than our own. This is where faith must be strengthened as well as reliance on God and His provision for us.

(Philippians 3:17-19)

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

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Missing Piece / Peace

 

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                Each person has a missing piece/peace. In those who ignore the creator God, the missing piece is Him. In those who are walking with the Lord I believe God leaves another missing piece. The missing piece in both believers and non-believers is meant to bring that person closer to God but in different ways. In the unbelieving God leaves in them a yearning for His presence that many fill with the things of this world, which fall short of the Glory of God. In His faithful I see that God leaves a missing piece that helps us to serve His kingdom while here on earth. I feel that people can identify their missing piece by discovering which activities bring their heart in closest communion with God. For some it’s music that brings them to worship. For some it’s serving others. Personally it’s studying His word and opening the scripture in new ways that help other identify with their God.

                I have trouble identifying with people who are overcome by worship music on Sundays. I love singing in worship but feel discouraged that I can’t be as close to God as they are in that moment. I expressed this concern with a close friend and He smiled and told me that I better get used to it because that kind of worship is all we will do in paradise. Heaven is never ending praise to God. I sat quietly later that day and had something fill my heart. I believe that God left a void in me that leads me toward His scripture and subsequently He bestows discernment and understanding that sometimes surprises me when I read my own thoughts. I think we all have that void that gives us a place to serve in His kingdom. I think coming into His kingdom involves God filling that void in each of His children. He completes each of us and allows us to enter heaven whole. It is at that point we will have nothing in our hearts but love for God and the inexpressible praise described in Revelation. Everyone will be overcome with His presence and will spend eternity in complete awe of our creator, the sovereign God.

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Healed and Guided

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Seeing Jesus heal many people as we read the gospels brings a thought to my mind. These people were being healed due to their faith. (Matthew 15:28)  Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.”  I feel that their faith was in His ability to heal and not who He was. (John 2: 23b-25) many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.  People from all around overwhelmed Jesus and the disciples with their numbers. All that came seeking Him with faith in His ability to heal were healed. (Matthew 8:16) That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. I’m sure that there were some that believed Jesus was the Christ, but I see disciples that hadn’t quite grasped the gravity of what they were seeing and Pharisee who were dismissing Him, even with their knowledge of Old Testament prophecies.

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 I can’t blame these people because I have the privilege to read the gospels and the words of the Holy Spirit spoken through Paul, Peter, and John. I’m blessed to learn from their actions and perception. I believe that was part of God’s perfect design. Each generation is meant to learn from the previous. (Psalm 78:5b-7)  He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments. When we fail to do this, we see the effects in the Old Testament of people falling away after being in the direct presence of God and His protection/guidance. Although the healings by Jesus did help those who were directly healed. I think the real purpose was to grow the faith of the disciples to strengthen the coming ministry/church. It was also done so that later generations could see what the light of God on earth looks like.

Jesus healed those people for YOU!

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Levels of Commitment

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We read in (Matthew 13:23) 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Mark 4:20) 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”  The level of fruit bearing represents the extent that we are willing to give our life to God’s purpose. Bearing the ‘hundredfold’ fruit requires complete submission. I see an Old Testament representation of this in the form of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was the tent that housed the Ark of the Covenant until a permanent home could be established in the temple. The Tabernacle was divided into three areas: a courtyard, and two rooms inside the tent of meeting: The Holy Place and Holy of Hollies (home of the Ark). These areas represent a closeness to God. Luckily for believers now, we have complete access to God. Our only limitation is our level of commitment to giving Him control.

 Our commitment can also be represented by the Holy Spirit in our lives. The courtyard represents a superficial representation of a walk with the Lord. People show an outward appearance of righteousness but always struggle in failure as they try to work their own way through life. The Holy Place represents the Holy Spirit in our heads. They know about God and what His desire for them is but submission eludes them. Seasons of fear and panic in the form of anxiety occur due to lack of understanding each moment. The Holy of Hollies is the dwelling of God in our hearts and our complete submission. The sovereignty of God is trusted through faith in all situations. There is an open lie of communication through quiet prayer.

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Return Tabernacle Commitment
100 fold Holy of Hollies Heart
60 fold Holy Place Head
30 fold Courtyard Superficial

 

The difference between God in our heads and in our hearts is the difference between ‘Knowing God’ and Knowing About God’. Knowing about God is important but falls short of being in His presence and in intimate fellowship with the Creator.

The Trinity (GOD 3 in 1)

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Godhead/Trinity/Triune God

People tend to get caught up in understanding the Trinity of the Christian God. It confuses people that a singular God is known as three entities. As with most misunderstandings stemming from the complexity of an infinite God, we have to step out of our limited understanding and into the vastness of God. We serve a God who wants His people to know Him and to understand Him. He must reduce His complexity to fit the fallen and limited minds of His people. How better to do that than as a Father. This was first given to us by God describing the heart of David in (Psalm 89:26) ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ (2 Samuel 7:14) “I will be to him [David and his eternal lineage thru Jesus] a father, and he shall be to me a son.” The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Malachi reiterate God as Father before moving into the New Testament era. We can all relate to a father figure and what that title entails. God relates to His people as the Father God and then comes to earth to relate to us in our own form, as The Son: Jesus. Jesus is our example of God walking the earth. He was the Holiness and perfection of God in the flesh. In order to show us how to relate to our Heavenly Father He became the Son and subsequently our brother. He then, through that perfect life, became the required sacrifice for the sins of man. The price of sin has always been death, ever since the fall. God as The Son received our penalty so that we may be reconciled to Him. He sacrificed Himself for His children. As the perfect Father would. After His earthly presence was persecuted and killed He defied death and the deceiver and was resurrected to eternal life, again as an example to us of faith and love for the Father. Then to further increase our understanding for his glory He indwelled, in His faithful, His presence. His presence is so vast that we could never fully comprehend it. He represents Himself in the believers as The Holy Spirit to guide them through a fallen world and to His sacrifice of Himself, ultimately to His glory.

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Imagine for a moment that you had children that would not pay attention to you or listen to your guidance. Through that defiance they put themselves in mortal danger. With their unwillingness to listen you were forced to sacrifice yourself to save them in the hope that your willingness to take their place in death would reconcile them to you. With your physical presence gone you left instructions for your children to learn from the wisdom they had previously ignored. That sounds like an amazing father, one I’d turn toward and seek to know. That father exists and His instructions are here for us. The father is God. He sacrificed Himself for us in the form of Jesus Christ, The Son. His instructions were left written on our hearts as The Holy Spirit. (Jeremiah 31:33) “I will put my law [guidance] within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Galatians 4:6) And because you are sons [brothers of Jesus], God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts.