In our devotion to God, it is easy to make “I will” statements. Promises easily proceed from our lips without much thought behind the words. The intentions are not necessarily bad; however, apart from grace, the words will be empty. In fact, it may very well be boasting before God. Without God's grace, we are incapable of doing the things of the Spirit. Even Peter was caught off guard after telling Jesus he would never deny Him (Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75). Perter did not yet have the Holy Spirit dwelling in him, since he was not born-again at that time. After he was endued with power from on High on the day of Pentecost, Peter became very bold in Christ Jesus. He did indeed die for Jesus, but not in his own strength.
Even with the Holy Spirit, Peter did falter; although, he was corrected by the Apostle Paul (see Scripture below). As long as Peter was led of the Holy Spirit, he did very well. While we purpose to do well before God, we must be connected to the Holy Spirit to be successful. We must align with the will of God and walk by faith to have results. Since, Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17), we need to listen to the voice of God in order to make effective statements. Like Jesus, we say what we hear the Father speak. This way we speak as oracles of God and minister in the way He enables us. 1 Peter 4:11If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God gives: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to Whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
If we boast, we should boast in God and about God. When it comes to your future, beware of the “I will” statements. Anything separate from, “If the Lord wills,” is boasting (James 4:13-16). If God says so, then we can say so. In the end, He gets all the glory. If we say things like, “I will follow you all of my days,” it may serve us well to add the “by Your grace” clause. The bottom line is do not attempt it in your own strength; otherwise, your words become empty promises. One point to clarify here. We all must make the deep down conscious decision to follow God and our choices should correspond to that decision. Nonetheless, the follow through is always going to be by His grace. He called us by His Holy Spirit, so it begins with Him.
Galatians 2:11-16But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; so that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, If you, being a Jew, live after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compel you the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 15. We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
The fact that we cannot earn God's love reveals the purity of His love.
There are no hoops to jump through, no commandments to keep, no goodness on our part that causes Him to love us. It cannot be earned. His love for us is the result of His nature. God is love (see 1John 4:16). He extends His love without looking for the return. In other words, God does not love us in order to gain our love. Think about it, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The Father gave His Son out of love, knowing that there would be those who would reject Him.
While we are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, He did not give the commandment to force us to love Him. At the same time the Father did not force His love on us. The commandment was intended to benefit us. Joy is the result of obedience, and love obeys by nature. Love serves well. Everything the Father does or commands is actually based on love. By definition, AGAPE (the God type of love) takes joy in the recipient for the recipient's sake alone. Everything God does is for our benefit, whether we believe it or not. 1John 4:16And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. When you know and believe God loves you, you will be secure in the relationship. We have to know and believe, so we can receive it through and through. Not just know it mentally, but believe it with our heart. You then have freedom to enjoy the relationship with the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
If you want people to feel secure in their relationship with you, you have to love them unconditionally. If someone has to earn your love, or they have to perform to get your love, your love is not pure. If you are inconsistent with love, no one will feel secure in the relationship with you.
Pure love does not require emotional cues to act. In other words, love acts regardless of the emotion of the moment. In some cases, it restrains the emotions from erupting inappropriately. People sometimes say things like, “If you love me, you'll feel like doing it for me.” Love does not require the “feel-like-its.” For example, because parents love their babies, they will get up out of bed in the middle of the night to feed them. Chances are they did not feel like getting out of bed, but they did. How many feel like changing messy diapers? For those who may be out of touch with gratitude for your parents, remember they did things for you, even when they didn't feel like it. Love sacrifices. Hebrews 12:2Looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Because of the Father's love, He sought reconciliation with us, while not inputing our trespasses against us (see 2Corinthians 5:18-19). Love will cover a multitude of sins. It gets beyond who is right; rather, it wants what is right. God is a holy and just God Who is always right. Though He would be perfectly justified in judging us and holding our sins against us, He chose mercy. He extends grace to those who humble themselves and repent. Nonetheless, the Father forces no one to repent, therefore, those who continue to reject Him will face a just judgment because He is holy. Keep in mind that He prefers reconciliation over judgment, but He allows everyone to decide for his or her self. He could have forced everyone to bow, but He didn't. He wants relationship. The time will come when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father.
If you have to be right, your are not walking in love. Love extends the hand of reconciliation without justifying itself. Love is always right. Please understand there are times to confront someone who offended you, but it must always be filtered through love. Speaking the truth in love will at times hold people accountable for their actions. Nonetheless, the idea is not to call them on the carpet; rather, to call them up to their position. “I don't see you as a person who does such things. I see you as a son of God who walks righteously. You're better than this.” The intention is still to raise another up out of failure.
The bottom line is love is intentional toward others.
John 4:23 – 24 But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Worship is connected to our identity and and design. It is relational in that God is not looking for worship, but the worshipper. If you feel disconnected with God, and have no sense of identity or purpose, it's time to check your worship. For some, there's a deeper need to understand the term. They believe worship consists of going to church, singing some songs and listening to the pastor talk about God. In reality, that plays a minute part of worship, but it doesn't really scratch the surface.
Worship is a lifestyle centered on God, giving Him glory and adoration for Who He. There's an intentionality behind it. For example, doing your job with excellence as unto the Lord is an act of worship. As it pertains to music, which a good many equate it to, worship acknowledges and blesses God for Who He is, whereas praise acknowledges and blesses Him for His mighty acts. Thanksgiving gives Him thanks for what He haas done in our lives. They are connected. As an act of worship, we give God praise and thanksgiving because we acknowledge where the blessings come from.
Again, worship goes beyond the songs we sing. It's the way we treat others, knowing that we represent Him. Understanding every human being is His creation, therefore, we treat everyone well. Knowing He is our Father leads us to want to bless our brothers and sisters because it is well pleasing to Him. As an act of worship, we acknowledge Him as our God in the way we do life. It's an honorable way to live.
Worship requires the Holy Spirit to guide our heart, soul and mind into truth. Without the Spirit, our flesh will lead us into self-gratification. We mortify the deeds of the flesh by walking in the Spirit. Galatians 5:16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Worship helps us realize the victory Jesus Christ already won for us. When we focus on worshipping Him, we will not be fighting off the rabid pet sins in our life. They will be dead to us. The Holy Spirit connects us to the heart of the Father and His will for our life. The more connected we are to God, the more like Him we will be. Worship helps us become the people He intended us to be. 1Corinthians 2:11-12For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
When people fail to worship God, they lack power for living and lose sight of their identity. They lack joy, for in His presence of fullness of joy. When you are unaware of His presence and fail to acknowledge Him as God, joy will not be present. John 15:10-11If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love; even as I have kept my Father' commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken to you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. If you lack joy, stop and ask God to show you what you need to see. Offer up praise and thanksgiving no matter where you are, and watch your life transform.
There is a lot of talk about speaking into people's lives and the power of the spoken word. As we have seen in Proverbs 18:2, Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. One of the greatest things we can do as believers is speak to the God-given identity of another. Agreeing with God is very powerful. We've seen its effects in the lives of children when parents speak into their lives. As believers, we are called to bless; not curse. We are suppose to edify or build one another up; not tear each other down. If we are to live powerfully, we need to pay attention to what we say. Proverbs 15:4A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
It is easy to speak contrary to God's Word by speaking out of frustration. When someone fails to meet our expectation and we speak to that failure, we are not speaking in agreement with God. Without given it a thought, it is easy to actually speak against the identity of others. If you are influential in someone's life, you actually have the capacity to affect his belief system about himself. Remember, as a man thinks, so is he. Therefore, what you say to someone or what you say about someone may definitely affect his or her future. This includes those things spoken in “jest.” Sometimes, people take to heart what others say, regardless of the intent. By the way, sometimes when people say, “I was only kidding,” deep down they actually meant it or believed it.
Don't forget the non-believers. Our call is to make disciples. In essence, we are to reach the lost for Christ, who by definition, would also be future heirs of Christ. Calling someone an “idiot,” for example, does not lead him to Christ. In fact, it speaks against the destiny God has for them. What does that mean? It means we need to stay submitted to the Holy Spirit, so we will speak words of life over the lost as well as the believer.
As believers, we are still human, which means we may blow it in our speech from time to time. There is a difference between the occasional cross word and habitual cross words. Hopefully, as we mature, those incidents are very few and far between, if any. We cannot embrace the notion that God's grace empowers us to be flippant in our speech. Rather, it empowers us to speak life over people and influence them for the kingdom of God.
The enemy of our souls will do everything he can to get us to agree with him. That's his way of gaining power, since Jesus stripped Satan of his power at the Cross and Resurrection (see Colossians 2:15). He is clever and seeks to trick us into speaking out of frustration and anger. Fortunately, God's grace gives us the capacity to send him packing. We need to live intentional in our day to day living. Whether it's at home, at work, in traffic or any other place. We need to purpose in our heart to speak well of others and speak graciously to them. Are you edifying others, or attacking their identity?
The reason many struggle with understanding the Bible is they approach it as another textbook. It is not a textbook, nor is it some manual for life; even though, its pages are filled with life. When you treat the Bible as a textbook, you will tend to apply natural reason, when it is something that requires the Holy Spirit to understand. In order to gain understanding, the approach must be relational. There are numerous messages found in its pages that are tailor made for the Church. Each individual is to have a unique relationship with God, which also means He desires to reveal Scripture to each individual uniquely. That does not mean He intends to have a bunch of strange doctrines floating around in the Church. After all, there is only one doctrine of Christ. It means He will teach you according to your design, and in turn, fold each individual's learning into one. Thereby, bringing instruction and growth to the Body of Christ, using each part to make the whole. No one individual will know the entirety of the Word, but through body ministry, each will contribute what the Lord has revealed.
Since the Bible is a relational book, unlocking its secrets requires a relationship. Before going further, take it to heart that if you want to understand it, you must spend time with Him. It will not work well for you otherwise. That being said, we need to eliminate a myth. That myth says, “Only a few are intended to grasp its contents. Only the scholars can get it.” Phooey! In one sense, only a few will grasp it contents, but the few refer to the chosen. Just as Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (see Matthew 20:16; 22:14). Everyone can be chosen if they make the decision. God is a Respecter of none. By the way, if you decide to study the Word in earnest, consider yourself a scholar. The more you dig, the more you will gain. The less you dig, the less you will gain. The Father wants you to know His Word. Think of it as treasure hunt. He has hidden all kinds of precious jewels for you to find, and He wants you to find them. In fact, He helps you find them. Enter the Holy Spirit. Step one, spend time with Him. Step two, believe He wants you to know and understand His Word. He wants you to know Him, so the Lord uses Scripture as part of the journey.
Step three: place Him as your Teacher. Do not put man in front of God when it comes to learning. Yes, Jesus has given us teachers to edify the Body. Their job is to help others grow in the Word (see Ephesians 4:11-13). Nonetheless, teachers need the Holy Spirit to properly instruct. Part of helping people mature is pointing them to Jesus and helping them learn from the Holy Spirit. In truth the Holy Spirit teaches through teachers. A good teacher is yielded to the Holy Spirit and relies on Him for understanding. Nonetheless, fellowship serves as a safety net as well.
When we gather together to share with one another what the Lord has revealed, He will also use each member to help bring clarity. Again, no single individual knows it all, contrary to what some might believe about himself or herself. So yes, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to use others to instruct us, but we must give Him first place.
The Lord has given us the anointing or unction to discern truth (see 1John 2:20, 27). That is why “bells and whistles” go off when we hear something that is not from God. It is also where we find peace when it is from Him. There has to be a willingness to listen to the Holy Spirit if the anointing is to serve you well. This is especially true when you hear something for the first time. That unction will also let you know to whom you should listen and whom to avoid. Here's a word of caution. We cannot afford to gather teachers to scratch itching ears. We must be willing to receive correction. If you ask the Father to correct you in Scripture, He may send someone to do just that. There's a possibility you won't like it, but if it's the truth, don't reject it. At the same time, He may send someone to confirm what you learned to be true. God is faithful!
Here's a scenario to help. Picture yourself sitting in the Father's lap while you are reading the Bible. See yourself enjoying His presence as He reveals Himself to you through the pages. Like a small child sitting in his or her loving daddy's lap, while listening to him read. Listen for His voice as you read the pages. Watch the revelation flow.