God’s love is more vital to faith than many realize. Without it, walking by true faith is impossible. Even Scripture makes it clear: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love (Galatians 5:6). Why is love so important? Obviously, our primary motivation behind anything we do should be love; but without having love in proper perspective, faith will always be a struggle. In one respect, as long as one doesn’t receive God’s love, he or she will have an improper view of Him. If you fail to believe He does indeed love you, you could actually believe that He prefers other people over you. Not to mention the fact you won’t believe He has your best interest at heart. If you don’t believe He loves you, you will not fully trust Him, and without that trust, you’ll find it most difficult to believe anything He says. This interferes with faith. Some believe that others have more faith than themselves. They think that only “special people” can move mountains. Are they saying, they’re not special? Doesn’t the Cross reveal their value to God? Because they don’t believe He loves them equally with the rest of His children, they disqualify themselves from walking by faith, while elevating others to places they don’t belong. For a clearer understanding of how faith actually works, read “Perfect Love, Perfect Faith.
1 John 4:7-10Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (NASB).
1 John 4:16-18We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19. We love, because He first loved us (NASB).
Remember that if you love God it’s because He loved you first, which also serves as evidence of His love for you. In addition: who reached out to who? You did not reach out to God; rather, He reached out to you.
It’s important to allow God to affirm you in His love; otherwise, your faith may become vain.
Prior to Jesus Christ, many who didn’t know what it was to be loved by their parents or family members, sought affirmation elsewhere. Some became what society considers respectable and successful. They centered on becoming the some of the brightest people on the planet. Whether it was in the realm of business, medicine, education, science and so on, they were going to find that place of prominence. Unfortunately, enough would never be enough. As soon as they hit their goal in life, dissatisfaction would soon set in again, because the affirmation that accompanied it was both shallow and temporary. Shallow in that love or affection was based on performance; not who they are. It’s like the rich guy who doesn’t trust people’s affection, because he doesn’t know if they want him or his money. Performance based affirmation always requires more doing. No one’s free to be themselves in that scenario. As long a person performs well under that system, he will “love” himself, but not in truth. The moment he fails to perform; he will despise himself. Of course, there are those who went the opposite direction. They turned to such things as violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and even crime. Because they were unloved by those who should love them, they consider themselves worthless. As a matter of fact, both camps tend to think that way. One side is busy trying to prove they’re not worthless, while the other is proving they are worthless.
Those who feel worthless, find it difficult to receive love. Again, some find it difficult to become successful because they don’t believe they’re good enough to succeed; but, everyone else is. A number of believers still live under this bondage. Until they believe and receive the love of the Father, they’ll be stuck where they are. Neither truly know their worth in God’s eyes. Remember, the Cross is a Symbol of worth. It’s a Symbol of love.
Those who are stuck in this mindset feel they have to serve; whereas, those who are free of it, get to serve because they are free to serve. People suffer burnout because they are driven, and not led of Holy Spirit. Because they are bent on proving their worth, they cannot say no when asked. They volunteer at times they should let others fill the position. That’s not to say one should always say no. It’s a question of boundaries. People overextend themselves because they want to please people, because they need their approval. Should they find themselves unappreciated, they tend to feel others were taken advantage of them, and become bitter. When you act out of love, no one can take advantage of you; even if they think they’re taking advantage of you. Why? You’re freely giving. That’s what love does: it freely gives!
Romans 13:8-9Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9. For this, “you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Unless you love yourself the way God loves you, you cannot fulfill Romans 13:9. How then, can you take it to the next level and love others as Jesus loved you? We’re not talking about Narcissism here, which is self-centered; rather, we’re talking about God’s pure, true love: AGAPE. Because He loves you, you need to do the same, for His sake.
When you read Psalms 139:13-18, you’ll find that you are precious in the Father’s sight, and it’s on this truth that you should base your worth. You cannot base your worth on someone else who is broken. What does that mean? Simply, those who don’t love, are broken; especially, if they are parents and family members. People can’t give what they don’t have. If they don’t love themselves, they cannot love you.
Their inability to love you is no reflection of your worth! Until they discover the love of God, they will be incapable of love. God is Love, and you are precious in His sight. Would you receive that now? Please, by all means do!
Walking by faith can seem impossible, especially if you walk it out biblically. The accounts of those who preceded us in the Bible are extraordinary, and so they should be. Why? Because the God of the universe is involved. You know, the One with Whom nothing is impossible, except that He could lie. The problem is that many measure what’s recorded by their experience and human abilities. A good many of them are moved by the opinion of others, instead of what the Word of God actually says. Several depend on what they feel instead of what God declared to us.
If you are going to walk by faith, you’re going to have to do it biblically. This leads to an important question: do you believe the Bible? Do you really believe, or are you just answering “yes” to sound good? You must make the decision to believe; unless you do, you will get stuck.
Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Verse 39 goes on to say, “But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Apart from (the) Holy Spirit, one cannot walk by faith, because you need Him in order to hear the proceeding Word of God, and understand Scripture. By the way, He is the Interpreter of the Bible, which makes the idea we don’t need Him rather ridiculous. Some say God doesn’t speak to us anymore because we have the Bible. Interestingly, in the Bible, Jesus said His sheep will hear His voice (see John 10:14-16). Are they saying the Bible nullifies His voice now? That same Jesus said that “MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.” Are they saying God quit speaking or has become mute because we have His written Word? There is one thing that’s convenient about not having (the) Holy Spirit present: a person can make the Bible say what he wants. This is a great danger. We cannot afford to interpret the Bible because it’s spiritually discerned. You will never know what God makes available to you by leaning on your own understanding, and He does want you to understand His Word. Otherwise, He would not have given it to us. 1 Corinthians 2:12-13Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13. which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words (NASB). Those who bend Scripture are in danger of adding or taking away from what God has said. That’s not a good idea at all! Some are already incapable of walking by faith because they don’t believe they can hear the voice of God today.
Question: do you believe God can speak to you if He wants? That may sound simplistic, but some need to start somewhere. One might answer, “Of course, He can do what He wants; but, the question is does He want to?” What does the Bible actually say? Please don’t limit it by your experience, God is greater than that! Search the scriptures to see if it be so. Incidentally, does God desire a relationship with you? Most relationships have a dialogue. Just saying!
A stronghold (as found in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5) is not some demonic fortress; although many strongholds are demonically inspired.
They are thoughts and imaginations that are contrary to the Word of God. They might have some elements of truth or factual statements intertwined with them, but they simply reinforce the lie or falsehood. People strongly protect them because they hold them to be true. Unfortunately, what they believe to be true, hinders their walk of faith. Anything held as true that contradicts the Word of God, nullifies the Word in his or her life. Traditions and doctrines of men are at odds with the true Doctrine of Christ. Those who have the greatest influence in your life can affect your walk if you don’t guard your heart. That doesn’t mean you should look at them with suspicion. It means everything must be filtered through the Word by (the) Holy Spirit.
Truth confuses those who have stronghold, so don’t assume automatically something is not from God if you get confused by something you hear. Here’s a simple truth: if you have the truth of God in any area, you cannot be confused there. What does that mean? If one is confused, he or she doesn’t have the full truth.
There has to be a willingness to have our minds renewed. We are invited to think like God, and that requires His Word. Make the decision to view things from His point of view. Keep asking Him for the truth and be willing to conform to it. The more you see things from His perspective, the easier your walk of faith will be. No one knows it all, humanly speaking; however, (the) Holy Spirit does. Ask Him to teach you, and reveal what God has made available to you. If you don’t know what’s at your disposal, you will never use it. Ignorance is not bliss in relation to the Word of God!
Often the question arises, “How do I increase my faith?” Most believers do want great faith, and there is greater faith than they expect available.
For those who struggle with faith, know from the get-go, perfect faith is actually God’s intent for you.
In fact, if the Holy Spirit lives in you, you have the faith of Jesus, which is perfect faith. More on that in a moment. Here’s a question for every believer: why do you want great faith? This question is important because the answer is vital to walking by faith and one’s final destiny. If love is not somewhere in the answer, one may need to re-evaluate one’s motives. Here’s why: faith works by love (see Galatians 5:6). Without love, we cannot walk as Jesus did. Remember, we’re supposed to be conformed to His image. Furthermore, we are to be imitators of God (see Ephesians 5:1). That is not to say we become little gods; rather, we take on His character. How did Jesus model faith while on earth?
Acts 10:38You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him (NASB). Everything Jesus did was based upon His love for the Father, and yes, for us. He did what He saw the Father do and spoke what He heard the Father speak (see John 5:19-30; 8:28). That means everything Jesus did was from the standpoint of His relationship with our Father. Romans 10:17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God. In short, in order for us walk by the faith of Jesus, we must be in communion with God. 1 Corinthians 3:9For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building (NASB). How can we co-labor with Him without communing with Him? How can we obey without hearing the command or request? Jesus said, “It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD'” (Matthew 4:4). If we aren’t listening to Him, we cannot walk by faith, pure and simple. To walk with perfect faith, we must love the Father enough to spend time with Him, and be in a state of communion.
Some feel they don’t or can’t hear God. If that’s you, take heart. First, it is the Father’s desire that you do hear His voice.
In fact, Jesus said His sheep hear His voice (see John 10:1-15), which means there’s a Voice to be heard. If you belong to Jesus, you’re supposed to hear His voice.
You may actually be hearing it without realizing it. He does speak to us in a variety of ways, whether we recognize it or not. Jesus also said that His sheep will not listen to the voice of a stranger, so don’t listen to the one that says, “Hearing God is not for today.” Please be careful to not limit God based upon your or someone else’s limited experience.
Briefly, we can listen to His voice as He speaks through (The) Holy Spirit who dwells in us. He may speak through others by the word of knowledge, word of wisdom or prophecy (see 1 Corinthians 12:7-11). The Holy Spirit also gives us the unction to act or discern (1 John 2:1-20). Hence, “I feel like I’m supposed to say this or do that.” It gives us those warnings, “This isn’t right,” or it confirms, “Yes, that’s right.”
Mark 11:22-23And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. 23. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him” (NASB). Everyone was given the measure of faith, and that faith is designed to be placed in God alone. In turn, He placed His faith in us through the Holy Spirit Who empowers us to speak to the mountain (grace). When you look at 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 and Galatians 5:22, you’ll find that faith is connected to the Holy Spirit. That means the faith of Jesus (perfect faith) is in us. If it’s our faith doing the work, the temptation would be to take credit for the results. However, if it’s His faith, then it’s also to His glory! How else do you suppose people get through circumstances in which they would normally be shaking in their boots? It’s His faith; not ours.
We know that signs, wonders and miracles require faith. These are acts of God that operate in Jesus’ Name.
Miracles operating through someone are not necessarily the Lord’s stamp of approval of that person. This is why faith apart from love absolutely does you no good (see 1 Corinthians 13:2).
It can be eternally detrimental. Understand that the Name, gifts and offices will operate regardless of the heart of the individual. When the Pharisees were conspiring to kill Jesus, Caiaphas the high priest prophesied “that it was expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish” (see John 11:49-53). The office gift Caiaphas had made room for him to prophesy, even though he would be amongst those who cried, “Crucify Him!” Do you remember Judas Iscariot? He was sent out with the other 11 Apostles, and did the miraculous alongside them. In fact, the others didn’t realize Judas would betray Jesus. He looked good. Obviously, the miraculous Judas did in the Name of Jesus were not God’s stamp of approval. In relation to us, God is more interested in our fruit unto Him than His acts working through us in the Name of Jesus. Yes, those acts are important to Him, since they do bless others and reveal His Kingdom. Nonetheless, He really wants to say to you, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into My rest.” It would terribly grieve Him to have to say, “I never knew you; depart from Me you that work iniquity” (see Matthew 7:21-27). Iniquity is a failure, and those who fail to love God, fail in the worse possible way.
The first part of the Fruit of the Spirit is love, and with perfect love comes perfect faith!
No human solution will ever satisfy the needs of societal issues. People in themselves do not possess the necessary strength to overcome overwhelming obstacles. A great deal of what we see in the world is beyond human experience and understanding. If we are going to affect change for the good in society, we will need to stop relying on ourselves to get the job done.
You cannot hope to eliminate hatred by using platitudes.
Empty words by well-meaning individuals will never change the course of humanity, especially when their sincerity is called into question. Vain words only lead to more suspicion where division is involved. Being concerned with the way people view us will never lead to trust. All these things are absent of love, and anything void of love breeds distrust and rebellion.
Regardless of what authority is involved (government, family, church, etc.), if it does not have the best interest at heart of those whom it governs, it will never govern effectively. It will fail to protect and serve, and thereby, fail to lead well. True biblical authority rules with a servant’s heart.
Luke 22:24-27And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. 25. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called 'Benefactors.' 26. But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. 27. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves”.
Jesus, who is the King of all kings and Lord of all lords, served humanity. He was more concerned about our well-being than His own. Even as He sits on His throne today, He still serves us. Why? Because He loves the Father and He loves us.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we have great authority, and we are to exercise that authority by loving others well.
We have authority over the power of darkness, but we don’t exercise that authority to “flex our muscles.” We exercise it in order to further the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom mandate is reconciliation and restoration. In other words, we are to concern ourselves with loving others enough to set them free in the Name of Jesus. We rejoice that our names are written in the Book of Life; not because we have power over the enemy (see Luke 10:17-20).
The world does need love. God is Love, and we are supposed to be like our Father in heaven. Apart from God, the world will go to hell in the proverbial handbasket. Jesus told us that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church (Matthew 16:18); nevertheless, it appears hell has been loosed in segments of society. How are we going to help hurting communities? We need the wisdom of God and spiritual understanding. We need to know what’s going on from His viewpoint, or we’ll never have the solutions they need. Furthermore, we need to make it about Jesus, and not ourselves. The more we make it about Him, the better we will love them. In fact, it will vacate the us and them mindset.
To those who are contemplating going into hurting communities: don’t you dare go if Jesus is not the Reason you’re going. This doesn’t merely imply whether you’re called to go. If you don’t go with the true love of the Father, you may do more harm than good. It’s one thing to be called; it’s another to be chosen. You may be called to go, but if your heart is not right, you won’t be chosen. Some make the mistake of going while they are yet only called. Usually, when a person is told he is called, it’s not yet time to go. It’s a heads-up: “Get ready to go.” The heart must be prepared first. The length of time between called and chosen varies. That’s why it’s important to walk by faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17); however, faith works by love (Galatians 5:6). If a person doesn’t obey what he hears out of love, it’s not a great idea for him to act or speak.
Do you feel as if God took someone or something away from you? Are you sure you have all the facts? Throwing the “God is sovereign card” out on the table without knowing how He exercises authority is lame at best. We can’t just say, “God could have stopped it” while pointing the finger at Him. There’s more at play here. God can do whatever He wants, but what He does and allows to happen according to His infinite wisdom is beyond our understanding. Remember, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). If someone stole something from you, was it Jesus or the devil? The devil loves to wreak havoc, then blame God by whispering in our ears, “He could have stopped it.” A number of people bite off on that one, including some believers. Rest assured, the time is coming when God will indeed stop it all.
Ironically, people get upset with God when He doesn’t impose His will on other people; yet, become angry if they thought He would violate their will.
In His sovereignty, God works through everything while allowing everyone the right to make their own decisions. For those who are in the disappointed camp: don’t get angry with the Lord if He reveals a way to go in some area in your life, but you reject His counsel, and everything falls apart as the result. Whose fault is that? You cannot control what others do, but you still can make personal decisions. You can still follow Jesus, even though other may have done you wrong. You can still choose bitterness, and live a miserable life. Stay disappointed if you like, but don’t blame Him for the results. What are your core values?
Selfishness breeds contempt, and affixes blame when things don’t’ go one’s way.
Selfish people are possessive. What part of “The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Psalm 24:1) do they not understand? Who is the Lord here? If God did “take something away from them,” wasn’t His to begin with? If you lend something to a friend, isn’t it your right to get it back? Why should your friend be upset with you if you reclaimed your possession? To Whom to do they belong? If you claim Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, doesn’t He have the final say in your life? Wait a minute, it’s no longer your life: “You are not your own. For you have been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God could force every one of us to do His will, but He doesn’t. He still allows us to make decisions and choices. You can still decide to yield to Him and trust Him with everything, or you can choose to reject Him altogether.
Are you aware that even though God is the Lord of all, He still serves us? Do you enjoy the air in your lungs? Do you find sunrises pleasant? Does He answer your prayers and move on your behalf? If you don’t think God has ever moved on your behalf, consider the Cross!
Okay, now for a tough one. Everyone will see a loved ones depart from the earth. As much as we love them, God loves them far more. If a loved one goes on to be with the Lord, shouldn’t we rejoice for him or her? Why would a person be angry? Obviously, at times, anger does come into play for various reasons, and not necessarily for selfish ones. For some, anger is a way to cope with loss. Some try to avoid sorrow this way, but understand it’s important to mourn. Without mourning, healing never comes. Tears are healthy. Some become upset because of the way which someone passed. That’s understandable. There’s no way to fully address the whys behind everything. Sure, some things may appear obvious, but often things aren’t so much. Asking why probably won’t bring very much comfort, even if there is an answer. The big thing is knowing that the Father is there to comfort us, and help us get through the grieving process.
If anger is overwhelming someone, a good place to start is forgiveness.
That includes forgiving God, Himself. If you are angry with Him, tell Him. It’s part of the relationship. For some reason, a few people don’t admit they’re angry with Him. Perhaps, some think that’s sacrilege, and it needs to be hidden. Do they actually think that God doesn’t know already? Denying it, doesn’t make it go away. If you’re angry with the Father, hash it out with Him. He is not some cosmic entity who could care less. He loves you. If God didn’t want us to be able to experience anger, we wouldn’t have the emotion to begin with. It does serve a purpose. It’s a question of why one feels angry and what he or she does with it. Do know that it’s better to be up front with God by addressing Him directly than complain to others.
For some, there’s a need to forgive the departed. They blame them for leaving. People do leave a void in our heart when they’re gone. Some are very dependent on others, and when others die, they feel stranded. We all have to learn to depend on God first and foremost. Let Him pick up the pieces. Besides, they’ll be out of place if we try putting the pieces back together on our own.
Regardless of who gets blamed, we have to forgive them, if we’re going to move forward. Without forgiveness, there’s no healing.