There are people that devote their entire lives to science. They look to discover why things work the way they do. They look to discover why or how things happened in history. I find it amusing when science creates a theory and pretends that it disproves God. They fail to understand that God is omnipresent, He is in all things. All they have done is discover the method God used to bring about His will. The way is irrelevant when they bypass the source. Even more amusing is when science feels the need to explain away God so they develop theories that they have to now set out to prove. Many times, in order to prove a theory, they alter the initial criteria assuming that what is known must be incorrect. Thank you science for helping believers see the imagination of The Creator and seeing how He brings about His glory. I rest assured of what God has done, I’ll leave it up to you to explain how He did it!
(Matthew 22:37-40) “‘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.”
The commandment to love God covers the first 6 commandments given to Moses in Exodus. Love your neighbor covers the final 4. (Romans 13:8-10) Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
The love found from God and through the Holy Spirit removes the need for the laws given in the Old Testament. Jesus came to earth to bring about a new covenant that is not under the law. The new covenant involves the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers. The maturing of the spirit leads us to the ultimate goal of unconditional and perfect love found in 2 Peter 1:5-7. Love is culmination of the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Christ had to remove the law to allow room for love to flourish. The law creates judgement, love creates mercy. (James 2:13) Mercy triumphs over judgment. God is love. The Holy Spirit makes unconditional love possible in our sinful human form. The presence of perfect love does not allow sin or temptation to exist. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of God’s people makes the Old Testament law obsolete. The presence of love fills the voids of that law and proves how incomplete it was without the sacrifice of Jesus for our sin made evident in the law. Once we realize our need for a savior because adherence to the law is impossible, we can let go of its hold on us and live in God’s love, through Christ as we reflect that love back to God and to our neighbors.
(Galatians 5:22-23) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(2 Peter 1:5-7) For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
(Matthew 24:45-51) “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This is a parable we should live by. They all are of course but the ideas of God cannot be simply spoken and understood. They must be developed in a heart filled with the Holy Spirit to become fully alive and applicable. Any time Jesus provides us a parable it speaks to every aspect of our life. The beauty of that is how the Word is alive and evolves in meaning to guide us in all seasons of life.
This parable speaks to God’s children, those who have accepted Jesus and are seeking to develop their lives with the indwelling of the Spirit. God is our master as we delight in the service of His kingdom. The religious structure man has created, in an attempt to reach God, clouds the true desire of God. God wants our hearts, our faith, our obedience, and true relationship with Him. Following the rules of fallible men leads away from His calling to us. The rules instituted by man create exclusivity which does not exist in the eyes of God. The rules man creates drive brothers and sisters in Christ away from the steadfast forgiveness and acceptance in Jesus. Not being open to relationship with all believers and helping them to grow is the same as ‘beating our fellow servants.’ If we are not ‘feeding’ them and helping their walk, we are in fact ‘beating’ the love of God back as He reaches out to all of His children. Look at this parable as a call of God to treat everyone with the love God shows you in your fallen condition. Don’t follow the rules of man. They are fallible, like the man who devised them. It is a mistake to take and try to grow the perfect word of God. If God didn’t choose to put in in scripture, who are we to add to the perfect plan of our Master?
People long for financial stability. They seek money in order to pay for what they want or feel they need. Most people begin to develop a financial focus in order to erase debt they have accrued. Having a mind that is focused on money leads to a slippery slope that moves us from a focus on the provision of God and toward our own ability to provide. We forget that even our own ability to provide is a provision of God. It is important that seeking money doesn’t outshine our seeking of God. (Luke 16:15) For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. The Christian walk should include avoiding debt. Being in debt to a person or a financial institution allows them to have a control over you that should only belong to our Lord. (Proverbs 22:7) The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. This is why God instructed His people to lend the provision He provided, but to never seek provision from outside sources. (Deuteronomy 28:12) you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. God doesn’t look to see you suffer, He looks for His children to rely on their Heavenly Father. Seeking the things and provisions of this world reduce our eternal view of God’s kingdom. (Revelation 3:17) For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. The true treasures belong to our soul, which is eternal and not of this world. We must strive to remain in reliance on the provision of God which leads us in His light and the path He designed for us before the beginning of time. We must be servants to God’s plan and not the materials that the deceiver uses to make us slaves to earthly institutions. We must maintain our focus on who we desire to serve. (Matthew 6:24) You cannot serve God and money. A focus on money and wealth is a focus on what we own or who we owe. In reality we own nothing because all things will turn to dust as God reigns in Heaven forever, and it is Him that we owe everything. Allow only the provision of God to lead you, keep you, bless you, and overflow from you!
As Jesus hung from the cross, He had the undivided attention of both His followers and His mockers. He is hanging by nails, pierced and beaten almost to death. He is weak in His dying body but strong in His spirit given by The Father. Is it plausible, since Jesus was fully God and knew He wasn’t forsaken but fulfilling the law in order to bring about reconciliation, that His outward question of being forsaken had a bigger message? (Psalm 22:1/Matthew 27:46) My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? What if Jesus quoted a Psalm written by David a thousand years earlier to give comfort and hope to His followers, then and now? I ask you to thoughtfully read Psalm 22 as if Jesus recited the entire chapter while dying on the cross for you and all other faithful. See how the actions of the cross were given one thousand years in advance and see what the heart of Jesus might have felt as He died as a perfect sacrifice. Here are a few references, but reading the entire chapter with an open and appreciative heart will allow one phrase from the lips of Christ to speak volumes to your heart.
(Psalm 22:7-8) All who see me mock me; [(Matthew 27:29) kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”] they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; [(Matthew 27:39) those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads] 8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”[(Matthew 27:33) He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him
(Psalm 22:16-18) a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— 17 I can count all my bones— [(John 19:33) when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs] (Psalm 34:20) He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots [(Matthew 27:35) they divided his garments among them by casting lots]
When a believer finds the joy and abundance of a life filled with the Holy Spirit, they can’t help but share that with everyone. They have good hearts but that doesn’t always mean the best method. Their passion is beautiful but pushes them beyond what they are called by God to do. I wanted to share a small metaphor to help those filled with the wonderful joy and passion that fills us to overflowing so that we might share, in the right way.
Although each situation varies and should be led by the Holy Spirit acting through the believer, I want to share a thought that requires patience and faith, both of which the Lord gives to any who ask. We must recognize that we are meant to plant the seeds of the Lord. All too many time we try and give a lost soul or a new believer fruit from our orchard. We want them to see the blessings and abundance of God, but they won’t understand. In fact they may be put off by an idea that only the Holy Spirit can fully communicate. We could stand by and load them with the fruits of God, but those fruits will spoil and fail to glorify God the way He desires. We must focus on sowing the seeds of God so that the Holy Spirit can grow an orchard in the hearts of the new believer. The Spirit can grow the fruits that person is designed to grow in and glorify with. The good fruit grown in the spirit will never spoil because it will be located in the orchard of the believer’s heart, that they will know how to care for, and allow the Spirit to multiply that fruit.
The worst thing a believer can do is push past their role and try to grow fruit. God’s provision is always better than ours, so His fruit must be also. We must make sure that our love for those around us spurs us to patience, faith and trust. Not allowing God to work in another’s heart will have the opposite effect and drive them away in fear of the unimaginable and infinite God. Remember back when you were saved. If all of the knowledge and joy found in God would have been poured upon you, it would not have found a place to grow. The Lord looks to grow you in His way and His time. Just the way He designed you.
How many times have you wondered as a believer how people who deny and defy God seem to somehow never fall? We see wealthy people who go to any means to increase their financial position. We see bosses who treat people terribly and still get promoted. This should never detour us. We should focus on what the Lord has for us and not compare ourselves to others. They are meant to walk a path far different from ours. The thought does leave us curious though. I was always of the opinion that some people need a bigger fall in order to submit to God. They needed to take a bigger loss to lose dependence on earthly things and seek the eternal. I still believe that is true for many but another thought came to me. What if the deceiver bestows earthly gifts to create the sense of dependence that drives people from God? What if the deceiver provides so many earthly things that people accept idols over God? Maybe an atheist billionaire is the deceiver’s way of convincing those who are weak in faith that they don’t need God, that this world is enough to satisfy the yearnings of our hearts. God leaves the emptiness in our hearts in order that it might be filled by Him. It makes sense that the deceiver would use this common trait to attack with false fulfillment. Is the deceiver clever enough to try and use the finite things of this earth to draw us away from the eternal fulfillment of God? Is it possible that satan would try and bless us away from our Savior? When we examine the extent at which he tempts man in defiance of the true God I don’t see why this clever tactic wouldn’t also be used. Don’t be drawn away by earthly idols and this darkened world. Let the light of God light the path that He created for you before the beginning of time and find your life in the eternal things that will last as sin and the gifts of the devil fade into nothingness when Christ comes to take us home.
I see a division that develops between people who were ‘raised in the church’ and people who found their Savior through a life of sinfulness. I’ve seen both sides view the other with a little longing for the other’s kind of testimony. The converted wish they could have avoided the mistakes they made in the absence of God and the ‘Christian raised’ people wish they could find the passion for Jesus they see in the other group.
People who were raised in church know all about God. They were raised with stories of His abilities and what He is. They learned to identify with God the way their parents or church elders did. They see God as a set of stories and rules that should be followed because that’s what God said. They see God as a legalistic God with requirements for the proper Christian life. The problem surfaces where the child either follows all of the rules then grows up to become even more legalistic (un-relatable to the fallen) or fails in following all of the rules and has no idea how to walk in redemption (loved by God regardless). Neither is spiritually healthy. This lawful view of God pushes those who came to the Lord broken away from church communities.
The people who find their Savior in their depravity have to deal with an initial onslaught of shame. From that shame, and proper knowledge of who God is, they find relationship with The Father. They can identify with His love and how a broken rule only magnifies His grace. They wish there wasn’t a resume of sin in their past because they fail to see what God was doing in their life. He has made them relatable and accepting of the lost and broken. The passion found in true relationship scares those who live on bible stories and rule following.
We see this exact premise play out in the Bible as well. The Jews were called by God to live in the law as they awaited the Messiah to come and rule over the earth. They became too focused on the law and missed the relationship with God and the love that was continually poured out for them. When Jesus came to reconcile the people and was rejected by the ‘law focused Jews’, Jesus came to Saul (Paul) and sent him to preach the Gospel to the gentiles. The gentiles then found God in there depravity and saw their need for a Savior in Jesus. They became the church that focused on the need for Jesus and the love of God over laws.
Next time you pick up the word of God and see the disciples of Jesus trying to speak into the Jews and trying to explain what the plan of God looks like in Jesus, realize this divide still exists today in the church. Although it isn’t a battle, it does cause division. But it doesn’t have to! We should see this as the opportunity for the ‘church raised’ to accept all who come into the community of Jesus, and for the passion found in relationship to spur their growth based on their repeated stories. The people in relationship should have patience as habitual views of a ruler God are replaced with an awareness of His steadfast acceptance and love. It should also serve as a lesson to parents to teach their children to have a real relationship with their Heavenly Father and to be an example to them of what that kind of relationship looks like in the flesh. Our Heavenly Father did the same for us, God’s earthly example was Jesus Christ.
In reading today I had a thought. What if God’s timing is based on defeating the deceiver as he tries to destroy God’s creation? 1 Corinthians talks about the secret wisdom of God that moves for His purpose without giving full knowledge of His way. (1 Corinthians 2:6-8) Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. If God made all things known, the sinfulness of His people would allow the deceiver to have a foothold in breaking His plan. I love that God could easily squash the deceiver but instead chooses to show is power in repeated defeats on the deceiver’s feeble attempts to compete in a game that he lost at the cross. If the deceiver would have known that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb, the methods would have focused on making God look fallible. Instead God let the deceiver use Judas to betray Jesus to Pharisee who were caught up with the religious concerns created by man, which are not of God.
Jesus says that He came to fulfill the law and to give us truth, which is grace and love. God foretold of the coming Messiah through the prophets, but the hearts that didn’t belong to God could not understand His plan. Peter tells the people that their ignorance was expected and thus forgiven. (Acts 3:17) “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.
Being in relationship with God allows you to receive the Spirit of God and the wisdom He bestows upon His people. You may not always understand what God puts on your heart which is why we are called to be faithful and obedient. We are to walk a path designed by God and to be led by His light on our journey. Have ears to hear the calling of God, and let your steps lead to a depth where your dependence is solely with God and not on your own power. It is then that you will see the Lord moving in you, in your life, and in this world. Ask and receive His secret wisdom. He is willing to give it, but only if you are willing to be led by Him. The word of God will not return to Him empty or without fulfilling its purpose. (Isaiah 55:11) so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.