Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Who Do You Love?

Trickery . . . “That we should no longer be children tossed to and fro, carried about by every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men” (Ephesians 4:14). You mean there’s trickery??? Oh yes, there is! There’s also cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. In Ephesians 4:15-16 the Word says, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by which every joint supplies . . .”

All of us have something to offer, and the sooner we develop a partnering-type of mentality, the sooner the work will be brought to completion. But we cannot partner together the way the Scriptures describe as long as we’re trying to control, manipulate, and simply use one another for our own benefit. Many times Christians come together, and this is the script going on in their heads: “How can this benefit me,” when the thought ought to be: “How can I serve you? How can I help you?” Every joint has something to supply that will edify the entire body.

Therefore, my mentality ought to be: How can I help you grow and progress? If I help you prosper, I’m going to be blessed. It’s a given! It’ll happen when your motivation is right and when you’re connected to your first love! You don’t have to chase the blessing; the Bible says that the blessings of God will come upon you and overtake you. I like those kinds of blessings! We don’t have to pursue them; we simply have to pursue the Blesser!

The key is staying connected to our first love, Jesus, and understanding that we are the body of Christ and that we have been fitly joined together as it pleases Him! You might say, “Well, my opinion is important!” Do you know to whom your opinion is most important? YOU! If you think that you’re the one who’s right all the time . . . then even if you’re right, you’re wrong. How does that work? Well, that type of attitude simply signifies that you’re prideful, unteachable, and do not listen to what other people have to say. You may think that you’re the only one who’s right, and in the end, hallelujah . . . I’ll just leave that one alone.

Verse 16: “And in Him whom the whole body joined and knit together by what every joint supplies.” There are no insignificant joints in the body, and the older you get, the more you realize that! I mean right down to your toes! Every joint needs oiling, eh? When I get up in the morning, I thank God for His anointing on every joint in my body. “Joined and knit together by which every joint supplies.”

Now, this is what is going to cause the kingdom to grow. The kingdom grows when the saints are equipped and released to do the work of the ministry, find their place in the body of Christ, and then become a demonstration of the love of God.

People don’t get saved just because we preach to them. Yes, we need to preach, or how will they hear unless someone tells them? Yet faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. What is the motivation behind this? We can preach and preach and preach, but if people don’t sense the love of God, they’ll tell you where to go and to take Jesus with you. It comes down to the love of God.

This divine, supernatural love is so powerful that it has the ability to wipe out every one of my sins. Don’t tell me you’re not capable of that type of love; that’s a lie! “I can’t love the way that God loves,” that’s a LIE, too! Stop it! The love of God has been shed abroad by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). The very purpose for which the love of God has been spread abroad is so that it will be poured out and impact the lives of other people. God wants us to touch others with His love, and it is made possible when He is our first love. It’s easy to love.

Think of the most despicable person you know (no, it’s not the one you’re married to). You can love the most unlovable person. Why? Because God does, and if God does, you can, because He puts His love in you to enable you to be a demonstration of His love. You just have to get over yourself! How are you supposed to pray for someone who has leprosy, covered in sores, or has the stench of death on them? “I don’t see how you can stand to even touch them.” You have to get beyond yourself! You touch them with the love of God. No cancer or leprosy is going to invade the love of God! It prevails over all sin, sickness, and darkness this world might have to offer.

Grace and peace,

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Where Are You Going, And What Are You Doing?

When I leave my first love, it means that I have gone somewhere else. If you leave one place, it signifies that you’ve entered another. From a spiritual standpoint, any time I leave my first love to go somewhere else, I should have just stayed home.

When I have left my first love, it means that I have chosen, willfully, to go in another direction. I am now going my way and am doing what I want to do. I’m going to do as I choose; I’m going to do what I think is best. I weigh my options and do what’s best for me instead of first consulting the Highest Authority, the Lord Jesus Christ. “What would You have me to do”? Oftentimes, what He would want me to do does not look exactly like what I wanted to do. In fact, it can be in direct opposition. What Jesus wants me to do can sometimes seem to make no sense at all.

In that moment of decision, what will I choose to do? Will I choose what looks best, most expedient, or most profitable . . . or will I choose to follow the lead of my first love? I always come out on top when I have followed God! It may take a little longer to get there by persevering, but it isn’t about “getting rich quick.” This is about obeying the Lord, following my first love, staying connected to Him, and doing what He wills and not what I want to do.

Let me make this very clear. He’ll let you do what you want to do. Just because you did it, don’t think you did the will of God. In making that judgment, the first principle to be applied is, “How does it line up with the Word?” If it is clearly NOT in alignment, then it is NOT the will of God. Let’s get that principle firmly established. The writer of Hebrews said that we ought to have our senses exercised in order to be able to discern what is good and what is evil.

We know that when we go our own way and make our own decisions without consulting the Lord that it comes back to bite us, and then we can’t figure out why things aren’t going well. Maybe it’s because we’ve wandered from our first love and have gone some other way.

Let’s look at Ephesians 4:11-15. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” What is the purpose of that five-fold ministry gift mix? It’s for, “the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” That is definitely another topic that I could delve into, but won’t at this time.

The whole purpose of the five-fold ministry is for equipping the saints for doing the work. In other words, the saints are supposed to be doing the work of the ministry, right? The apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers have been given to the church to equip believers to do the work of the ministry, not to simply make churches bigger and collect more money! No, the purpose is to equip, train, teach, and give individuals the equipment they need to serve. As I’ve said, that’s a whole other message, but listen: if I don’t help you succeed in being what God has called you to be, then I have not done what I’m supposed to be doing! The point is that we have a place wherein we can become equipped, then WE (meaning you and I), are able to do the work of the ministry.

“For the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.”

We are continually being brought to completion/maturity. We are ALL involved in this process, and God is bringing us to this point through the knowledge of His Son and in the unity of faith until we are all being perfected in Christ-likeness.

Let us make a personal goal of examining our hearts and giving careful thought as to how much attention, deference, and obedience we give to our first love, and this will be very telling as to what place we give Him in our lives.

Grace and peace,