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Posted: 2006-12-30 17:57:04
Posted: 2006-12-30 17:55:37
Additional Response to Excerpts from True Discipleship by William MacDonald:
And even if the world was not watching, it will not be easy for us to give everything every day. But the Lord is the most important one and He is not just watching you. He is our helper and is rooting for us. He is ready to change us and strengthen us at our slightest whisper to him. Sometimes, when we feel so weak and can hardly ask, he gives us the strength and desire to keep going. He is the author (starter) of what he wants us to be and He will finish the work in us if we keep on with Him. Lord, help us to keep on with you to the end! David Nelson
Posted: 2006-12-30 17:55:36
WHAT DO YOU THINKabout the excerpts below?
COUNTING THE COST
It is one thing to make a decision for Christ in the warm emotion of a mass evangelistic rally. But it is quite another thing to deny one's self, and take up the cross daily, and follow Christ. Although it costs nothing to become a Christian, it costs plenty to be a consistent believer walking in a path of sacrifice, separation and suffering for Christ's sake. It is one thing to begin the Christian race well, but it is quite another thing to slug it out, day after day, though fair weather and foul, through prosperity and adversity, through joy and through grief.
And so the Savior said, "You had better count the cost!" Luke 14:28-32
E-mail WHAT YOU THINK to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: 2006-12-30 17:54:16
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will toward men.
Posted: 2006-12-03 09:18:37
And the angel said to unto them,
Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day
in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord.
Posted: 2006-12-03 09:18:26
Relationship with the Lord 12-1-06 (To know Him)
The Lord gave me an insight one time when I was talking with a person who said they were a Christian and said they prayed all the time. The Lord prompted me, tell them that to be a Christian it is not only talking to the Lord but the Lord must talk to us also. Later the Lord reminded me how when we first become a Christian it was only because the Spirit drew us to the Lord (“no one comes to the Lord unless the Spirit draw him”), He convicted us of sin, and called to us to come to Him and to repent. That was possibly the 1st time the Lord spoke to us and we answered Him by turning to Him and then we prayed to the Lord to be saved. But do you see that the initiative was with Him first speaking to our hearts, convicting us to come to Him and be saved. Then we came and said to the Lord, “Please save me.”
And it does not end there. Yes, we continue to talk to the Lord (pray) but He also continues to talk to us. He shows us things, shows us which ways are wrong or right, speaks to us to turn this way or that. Without this discipline, correction, speaking of the Holy Spirit to our hearts we would never grow or become more holy or become all that He wants us to be. As time goes on in our relationship with the Lord, He shows us what He wants us to do, what our calling is, what our destiny is, what job it is that we are supposed to do on the earth. Jesus said, “I do nothing on my own authority but only what I see the Father do, that I do, and what I hear Him say, that is what I say.” Jesus had a relationship with the Father and we, too, are to have a relationship with our Lord. Jesus said, “Take up your cross daily and follow me.” Every day He may speak something to us of what to do or just how to stay in communion with Him. He will tune our spiritual ears and teach our hearts how to know His voice better and better. “My sheep know my voice and they will follow me.”
So you see, the real meaning of being a Christian is not just for us to talk to God and pray but for us to learn how to have a relationship with Him, He will speak to us and show us the right paths and the purpose for which we are here on earth. As we learn to discern and follow His voice we will become Holy as He is Holy and we will be His child growing in His grace into His likeness and we will be prepared for Heaven. He wants to walk with us and fellowship with us and have a relationship. Without this we are not really His children because we are not being trained (see Hebrews 12:5-11 and 14) “Without His discipline, training, and His holiness no one will see God.” To be a true Christian we must talk to Him (prayer) and He must talk to us, and we should continue in this relationship to the end. Otherwise we are as Hebrews 12 says, illegitimate children and not a true child of God.
But don’t be discouraged by these Scriptural warnings. Just know that your walk with God and relationship with Him is desired very much by Him. After all, He called us to it and has promised to keep us in the right way to the end, in His strength and His grace and His love. He loves us and wants us to be His friend very much.
Posted: 2006-12-03 09:16:36
"The Lord does really need men and women to serve His ends...His need may be very great, and yet He may not be able now to open the way for you to come in to serve Him...The Lord is waiting until your heart is broken over this whole situation...It must be a matter of heart-love for the Lord and for what is His, and not for the work, the ministry; not for anything but for your Lord and what is His. When you get there, and you are found upon your face before the Lord breaking your heart because you see He is not getting what He ought to have, when this becomes the travail of your soul, you will find the Lord will begin to do something."
Posted: 2006-11-30 17:57:46
Excerpts from The Desire of God’s Heart, Rick Bewsher, Kingdom Publishing,
P. 3 (Introduction) The Father longs to have fellowship with us, he yearns for us to know and enjoy Him. His heart aches for us to wait for Him, be attentive to His whispers, responsive to his promptings, captivated by the beauty of his character.
P. 6 Cease with our activities to hear the Lord.
P. 12 In 1979 he asked me, “Do you love Me? What thrilled me was not Christ but the work, the dreams, the plans, the self centered fantasies I coddled regarding my role in His kingdom and what I might be able to accomplish “for Him.”
P. 13 Over the next 10 years I came to realize more what loving Him meant. (What love for the Lord is and what being loved by Him is). And that I could love him as much and as often as I wanted to then and there (right now). I could enter immediately into the central purpose of my creation. No need for delays, frustration or waiting. He is waiting for our love and we can immediately delight his heart. This is what the Lord is longing for, genuine hearts loving Him.
P. 15 In Genesis 8:9 when Noah sent out the dove from the ark (the world covered by water, even as the Spirit brooded over the chaotic waters at creation), it found no resting place. The Holy Spirit, even now, is particular about whom (or where) He will settle upon. The dove came and rested (or remained) on Jesus (Is. 11:1,2 and Jn. 1:32,33). The Spirit was hovering over the chaos of the waters even as He now (hovers over the ramblings and chaos of the flesh in the church).
P. 16 What purpose did God have for man prior to the fall? Not salvation, he was already saved. Now we have returned to His purpose of intimate fellowship with the Lord. The Spirit and the Bride are both saying to the Lord Come (they are one voice and one desire).
P. 17 Home is the place where we relax. The Father wants to relax at home, a place where he is received and enjoyed as He is, of course greatly reverenced for His majesty and holiness, but also not subject to constant demands, and where he is free to share his heart. He wants a sanctuary, a tent of meeting, a dwelling place. Church meetings are not primarily to meet our needs. Church is for the Lord. The Bride is for Christ. “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me.” (Ex. 25:8) They shall come near to Me, to minister to Me, to offer to Me the fat and the blood. And this is exactly how I want the furniture in my house.
P. 18 My house shall be called a house of prayer. (Is. 56:7) The specific purpose was to be communication between God and man, a sharing of hearts.
P. 19 The central objective of our corporate life should be to provide God with a house. (Eph. 2:19-23) We are built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. The tabernacle of God is among men and He shall dwell among them. (Rev. 21:3)
P. 20 There is no place for the natural man in the Church, that which is born of the flesh, no matter how refined or self-sufficient is still the flesh.
P. 21 Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her Beloved? (Song of Songs 8:5) (Who is this Bride, look how she depends and walks so close to Him?)
P. 24 Don’t appoint elders so quickly just copying a pattern, but as the Lord leads the Scriptures will be fulfilled.
P. 27 The Lord will for a time withhold his guidance. The great temptation is to plug the gap with our own reasoning and adopt some course of action because we find it too painful or exposing to wait and do “nothing.” The church is not a democracy, the majority can be wrong, the older Christians can be wrong. If we deny the idea of one person we may miss what the Lord wants. The Lord may even express himself through an inconspicuous brother or sister.
P. 29 The longest recorded prayer of the Lord is in John chapter 17. Would this not show the heart of our Lord? He prays about us being one with the Father as He is and us being one with each other. This supernatural unity is love, it exists within the God-head and it is infinitely beyond anything this world or our natural abilities can produce. Only Christ can give it, release it, produce it (the woman (Bride) is made from the rib of Adam (Christ)).
P. 30 “Father, I desire that they also be with Me, where I am.” (Jn. 17:21,24) The Lord wants to be with us.
P. 33 A spectacular dynamic of the church is the supernatural knitting together of believers who differ substantially in culture, social status, economically, etc. It’s relatively easy to gather believers who have a natural affinity for one another and who share similar lifestyles. The surrounding community can’t get over these differences but they see that the church can. The Lord wants to cut through our barriers to display the fullness of his character and the depth and power of his love. “See how these Christians love one another?” It will amaze people. We are to surrender self-desires to a greater love.
P. 37 To come close to God means giving up our pet sins. (They are exposed when we come close to His light) But if we want to stand off, afar from Him, we may say we want to serve him from a safe distance (Moses can be close to the Lord, let him speak to us, not God). We are willing to relate to God on our terms with a go-between to stand in their place (like having a pastor?). But the Lord wants to be close to everyone, all of us are to be priests. Instead of a whole nation close to Him, He only had a few priests and prophets who were near Him and with whom He could share His heart.
P. 39 God doesn’t want to be close to just a few. It is not meant to be a closed holy of holies (intimate relationship) or only to be once a year but the curtain is rent (torn, not to be repaired) from the top down (the Lord tore it down).
P. 40 In Revelation 2:6,15 it says that God hates the deeds and doctrine of the Nicolaitans. The word Nicolaitans means victory over the people (laity). We need to be careful about the distinctions between church leadership and the people. In some translations Matthew 23:10 reads, “Don’t be called leaders, for you have one Leader, that is , Christ.” The word pastor is only used once in the Bible (Eph. 4:11) and even there it is plural (possibly referring to elders).
P. 42 The idea of freeing any believer to rise up and contribute at a church meeting, may seem an invitation to chaos for those in oversight, especially if they have little experience in this area, or if they fear losing control. But we must have the full expression of every believer as the Spirit leads to see the fullness of Christ expressed.
P. 43 All too often the church program is deliberately fast-paced to maintain our interest, and because there is a fear of silence and the vulnerability that silence invites. But this is like having a phone conversation with the Lord and when we are through talking we hang up. The Lord is cut off continually and is prevented from expressing himself through the Body.
P. 48 As an oyster puts layers of pearl around a tiny grain of dirt or sand, so the Lord is putting layers of beauty around us to prepare us for his kingdom. Nothing is wasted, every trial, every bit of suffering allowed to come our way, every act of faith, every attitude of trust (when little can be seen), every sacrifice, every victory (even the small ones), every step toward the Lord for a deeper relationship is gathering around us layers and the Lord is building a treasure one day to be displayed in that City for His glory. “Oh afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold I will set your stones in antimony and your foundations I will lay in sapphires. Moreover, I will make your battlements, rubies.” (Is. 54:11,12)
P. 51 “Let us make bricks (man-made blocks as opposed to natural rocks), let us build a tower (our own efforts and works), let us make a name for ourselves” (our name in lights not God’s name).
P. 53 To leave the city of
P. 55 Some argue that to separate oneself from the artificial institutions of Christianity but not really from the Christians within (to leave Babylon) is simply to add to the division within the Body of Christ. In fact, the reverse is true. The only way divisions can ultimately be healed is to abandon all that the flesh has created which maintains division, exclusiveness and separatism and meet on the basis of Christ alone, inclusive of all believers.(Not to make a new denomination called the “Christ alone disciples” but only wanting what is purely from God, and that will be recognized in your town, in your home, from your mouth by all others who know Him).
If we will pull up to the Lord’s table we open ourselves up to great treasures, old and new, that come from many types of people. We will be one with all saints of all ages of all backgrounds recognizing His Spirit and His truth in them. Thus we are able to receive and benefit from their lives and ministries. This is what it really means to be “inclusive.”
If we are to bear the ark of God (uphold the testimony of the Lord) it must be at the expense of our own natural affections. In I Samuel 6:7,8,12 it speaks of a new cart with two cows to pull it and that their calves must be taken home, away from them. Then it says they took the straight way, lowing as they went (calling out the message, or singing, or praying and interceding as they go) not turning to the right or the left.
P. 56 The cows were sacrificed when they arrived, our eyes not being on the cows and what they have done but on the Lord’s presence. We must die and disappear before His glory and not be praised by men. With this attitude (not to be recognized, but see Him), we will be able to endure and overcome what is ahead.
P. 57 Remember the individual, “to him that overcomes, and to him that has an ear to hear….” We should not have the “overcomer club” mentality.
P. 58 If a man is what gives cohesion to a group the Lord may remove him so that the Lord can take his place.
P. 65 If you think the war is too big and your own resources too small, may your eyes be opened to see as Elisha’s servants eyes were opened to see the hosts of heaven on the mountain tops available to help us. And the Captain of the hosts of heaven is before us and behind us to overwhelm all enemies and destroy all obstacles.
Posted: 2006-11-30 00:32:46
Posted: 2006-11-30 00:32:36
WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS TO SEE
(from the book, Desiring One Thing-2006)
Unity is a word that has a great deal to do with love because people who are one are able to overcome the problems or the building up of barriers that cause people to separate. One of the biggest problems that has existed from the very beginning of man’s walk on earth, and it will be one of the biggest problems until the day when there are new heavens and a new earth, is this spiritual war in which Satan wants to cause division between us and God, and between people. He wanted to cause division in the Garden of Eden, he craftily planned to cause division between the man and the women and he wanted to cause division between God and Adam and Eve also. He wants to sow discord, he wants people to be suspicious of each other, or to not like each other, or to think that somebody is trying to hurt them or somebody is trying to get them, or that nobody cares and we’ve got to look out for ourselves. All these thoughts can cause people to be divided. Negative thinking can cause us to be separated from people and God wants people to be together, forgiving, united, at peace and connected.
Another area we will talk about is how God is going to create in us a greater capacity for our hearts to be connected together, a greater capacity for fellowship, a greater capacity for transparent communication (with no masks). We must really care about each other, not just with a human care (you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours) (you invite me to your party and I’ll invite you to my party) (you brought me a pot roast when I was having a rough time in my life, so I’ll bring you a nice covered dish when you are having a hard time). The world does that kind of thing. We have to have something MORE than the world has. The kind of love God wants to teach and put in us is His agape love. It is going to be a powerful kind of love and it is going to be the kind of love that will bind the church together to become what they are supposed to be. Everybody is different. Everybody is going to have different ideas. Everybody is going to be at different spiritual levels. We have to be able to have a love and acceptance of each other with no walls, no masks, and a real, heart compassion that longs for each other’s good. A great change in our hearts is needed.
I Peter 4:8 says, “Above all things, have fervent love among yourselves, for love covers a multitude of sins.” Another way this can be put is, love covers a lot of mistakes. Love covers a lot of stupid things that others do. Love covers a lot of selfish things that were done. Love covers a multiple of wrongs, if someone has wronged you, love covers it. Love forgives. We must, above all things that we do, put on this love because if we cannot forgive a person it is going to cause division. Without a God kind of love, we are going to assume that people have hurt us on purpose or that they are going to hurt us again, and we are going to continually have a suspicious attitude toward them. We are not even going to want to be with those people. That is what causes division. Satan likes nothing better than to cause people that at one time were truly fellowshipping in the Lord, to stop talking to each other. He just wants to do whatever he can to get you away from others and to get you so you are not connected any more.
In Matthew 18:23, Jesus gives a parable about a person who was forgiven of a tremendous debt. “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a certain king which took account of his servants and when he had begun to reckon, one was brought to him who owed him 10,000 talents (10,000 talents is so much money that it is like one million dollars today). The person who owed this would never be able to pay this huge amount of money. Even if he sold himself into slavery to that king for the rest of his life, he would never be able to pay his debt. So, in this instance, his wife and his family were also sold into slavery to the king. Really, the truth of this parable has to do with the debt that we owe God and we could never pay God enough to be free of our sins. Even if we gave God a million dollars it wouldn’t cover our sins. Even if we said, Lord, we’ll put ourselves into slavery to you, this wouldn’t pay our debt either. Our debt had to be paid by Jesus. It was a debt that we couldn’t pay. This man could not pay his huge debt to the king either. But he fell down and said, “Please have compassion on me…,” and he pleaded with the king for mercy. The king, who represents Jesus or the Father, said, “I will forgive you of all this debt.” Then, as the forgiven person was leaving the king’s palace, he passed a person who owed him money. And the person who had just been forgiven a huge debt took the man by the neck (for a much smaller debt) and said, “Pay me what you owe me!” So the man who owed the much smaller debt said, “I’m sorry, I promise I will pay you back." But the person that was forgiven of everything wouldn’t forgive his friend and said, “You are going to be cast into jail and I’m not going to forgive you of this little debt.” So then, in verse 32, his Lord (the king) said, “After that, he called him who had been forgiven of the whole debt.” And he says to him, “I forgave thee all that debt because you sought my help. Should you not have had compassion on your fellow servant, even as I had pity on you?” And then his Lord said, “You are going to be delivered over to the tormentors until you pay all that was due and so, likewise, will My heavenly Father do to everyone..." He, too, will deliver them to the tormentors, unless they will forgive others from the heart.
We must forgive our brothers and sisters from our heart. This is VERY important. Every person that we see, we don’t know how many sins they have committed through their whole life, we don’t know how many sins they committed when they were 2 years old, 5 years old, 8 years old, or 10 years old. We don’t know all the secret sins that they have done when no one could see. We don’t know all the sins they have committed in their heart that no one else knows. Yet, the Father in heaven forgave them of everything that they have ever done. How can we get mad at others because they have offended us, or someone that has hurt us, or someone that has maybe sinned 1 sin, or maybe they sinned 3 sins against us, or maybe they sinned 10 sins against us, and we are so sick and tired of them for doing these things, that we won’t forgive them for those 10 sins that they did against us, when the Father in heaven forgave us of everything. We only see the tip of the iceberg in other people’s lives, and we won’t even forgive them of the tip of the iceberg that we see? God says, I want to teach you to forgive others completely.
Jesus tested Peter and he said to him, “How many times shall your brother sin against you and you forgive him?” Now, if you had to answer that question, you might say, well, if I say 3 times that’s not being patient enough with people. If I say 5 times, that is not patient enough either, but if I say 7 times, then if somebody sins 7 times that must be the limit that we are supposed go in patience and love. But Jesus said, you shall forgive 7 times 70. Does that mean 490 times? What Jesus was saying is that love never fails. Love never stops forgiving. Love covers a multitude of sins, all sins. Just like the father forgives all sins, you can forgive your brother or sister of everything they have ever done to you or others, even if they are selfish, ungrateful, stupid, mean, and they never change and even if they are not a Christian. They are not even a Christian? Well, certainly you should forgive them, they don’t even know the Lord. They don’t know any better. Jesus said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” If they are Christians, we need to pray that they are going to learn to walk a better way and that they will learn how to walk closer to the Lord. If they don’t forgive you, they are in jeopardy of being cast away to the tormentors as this other man was. Did not Jesus say, “If you do not forgive your brother neither will your heavenly Father forgive you.” The Lord’s prayer says, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Forgive us our sins as we forgive the sins of others.” In the very next verse, after that prayer, he says, “For if you do not forgive others, neither will your heavenly father forgive you.” So, we have to learn this path of love. It is going to be something that we must learn.
In Matthew 5:43 it says, “You have heard that it has been said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say unto you, you must love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to them who hate you, pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you, so that you may be children of your father….” I want to teach you about my love. I want you to be children of my Father. I want you to learn what my love is all about, for if God makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust, and if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? In other words, if you just have human love you will say, I like these people, these people are nice to me. These people have been nice to me, so I’m going to be nice to them. So, if you love people who love you, what reward have you? That is how the world is. But, if you love people who are unlovely, who are mean to you, who are your enemies, who have treated you badly, have hurt you, whatever, this is going to be a supernatural kind of love that God wants us to have. The Word says, if we have the kind of human love where we love those who love us, we do nothing different that the publicans do. Do not the publicans do the same? If you salute your brethren only, you are friendly to people who are friendly to you, you shake hands with people who are nice to you, but you are not nice to people who treated you cold, what are you doing more than others do? Do not even publicans do the same as this, but you must be mature and perfected and I want you to be perfected in love even as your Father in heaven is perfected in love. You might say, wow, this sounds really deep. In Luke 6, we can also see the kind of love Jesus wants us to have. This is not optional, Jesus says, if you just live like the world lives and you think you have so much love, how are you different than other people and where is your reward going to be? It says in the Amplified Bible, “You are to be perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” You say, “Well, I don’t want to talk about all this perfection stuff.” Luke 6:35 says, “Love your enemies, do good, lend hoping for nothing in return and your reward shall be great and you shall be called children of the Most High God.” Isn’t that what Matt. 6 said? It said that we might be children of our Father. For God is kind to the selfish and the ungrateful. You therefore, must be merciful, even as your Father is merciful and forgive as he forgives.
In Colossians Chapter 3, a garment is described that is going to be given to the Church. It has been lost to the Church for some time now but soon it is going to be returned to the Church and returned to his Bride. The Lord longs for his Bride to wear this garment again. Col. 3:12 says, “Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, who are holy and beloved, put on bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering….” Do you know what longsuffering means, it means suffering with the problems that other people have, the problems that other people are causing you, how other people act towards you, maybe others are causing us pain, we are to suffer long. In other words, we are to be patient. We must continue to be understanding and we must keep forgiving others. This is part of what longsuffering means. Col. 3:12 says, “forbearing one another.” To forbear means to bear with people’s inconsistencies or their inabilities to understand things (see things the way that we see them), or maybe we must bear with others treating us unfairly. Forbearing one another means bearing with others faults. Love covers a multitude of faults. Love covers all faults and it keeps on doing this 7 x 70, and we just keep on forgiving because we are never going to see everybody’s sin in its totality. But God forgives them of everything and we need to have that kind of love and patience, forbearing one another, forgiving one another, if you have a quarrel against another, even as Christ forgave you, also forgive them. Above all these things, put on love which binds everything together in perfect unity. Here we see another important word, unity. When we look at John chapter 17 we will explain the meaning of this word more in depth.
The Lord is desiring to teach us to be kind to people who have been rejected by other people. In other words, if we are just kind to the people who are important and we ignore unimportant people, this is not what Christ was like. When Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” that means if somebody came to your church service and they were a stranger, just think how uncomfortable they might feel. Would they not appreciate it if people gathered around them and said, we are so glad you are here and we sincerely mean this and we want to make you feel welcome and we will be your friends in Christ. Of course we don’t want to overwhelm a person, but you want to make them know that no matter who they are, no matter how they are dressed, no matter how unimportant they look, that you are welcoming them and you are making them a part of your circle. Otherwise, you will have little, exclusive circles saying, “These are the people I like.” This is my little circle of friends. To get into this circle you have to dress a certain way. You have to have a certain degree of education. You have to act a certain way. God is not like that. Jesus was not like that. He said, “I was lonely and you visited me.” I was this or that and you say, “When did we see you, Jesus?” Because if we would have seen you, we would have known that you are special and you are important and we would have always invited you to our dinners. “If you did it not to the least of the brethren, you did it not to me,” because you didn’t have my love. You didn’t have that perception of knowing that everybody is important. The people who are respected and have a lot of money and have position in the church, maybe they are so proud that they do not need anybody. But this new person who came in, they are lonely, maybe they have been thinking about suicide, maybe they just lost their job, maybe they don’t have nice clothes because they just haven’t been able to get a good job, or whatever. Maybe, they are having some other problem. This is the person who needs more help than anybody. To welcome them and to be a friend, this is the kind of person we are to be, if we could only put on this garment of kindness and bowels of mercy.
Mercy is another word that is closely connected with love. If you have mercy on someone you are giving them the benefit of the doubt. Even a judge who is able to prove that somebody is guilty, if he has mercy upon them he forgives them even if they are guilty. In I Cor. 13 it says, “Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things….” Love gives people the benefit of the doubt. If you think you saw somebody do something and you say, “I think their motive was wrong?” Well, how do you know that? Were you able to read their mind or their heart? Were you able to know everything about what they were thinking? Were you able to look deep into their heart? No, we can’t. Only God can. The flesh (man’s natural inclinations) always thinks negative of others but the Spirit of God (when we walk in the Spirit and walk in love) always gives people the benefit of the doubt and puts a positive interpretation on things and says, “Well, I don’t know why that happened, I don’t know why they didn’t say hi to me this morning, but I am just going to believe that maybe they had a really hard night and they just didn’t see me.” Instead of thinking, “They saw me. I know they did, and they don’t like me and I’ll just chalk-up number 3 on my offense list against them.” You see, this is the kind of attitude that is negative, fleshly, and opposed to giving people the benefit of the doubt.
In Proverbs 22:1 it says, a person’s name is more valuable than all of his goods and if a person wants to bring down someone’s name, they might as well go into their house and steal all of their goods, because a good name is more valuable than many, precious possessions. Really, what we do when we talk behind people’s backs is that we bring down their name. What we do, even when we think negatively about people, the Word says, “Love thinketh no evil.” Love doesn’t even think negatively. Oh, we say, “I think they did such and such and it is usually a negative thing, and it is the flesh that thinks negatively. But true agape love doesn’t even think evil. You may say, “How am I going to get to that kind of love? God will change us, he wants to and he is ready to do it.
In John 13:34 Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you, in this way you should love one another, by this all men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” To love one another (as Jesus loves us) is a deeper love than just human love. Human love can be shown through physical love or physical attraction and it can also be expressed through phileo love, which is an affectionate type of connection with people. In other words, I really like so and so. I really get along with so and so. We can really talk and we can communicate and they are smart and they like some of the same things I like. This is an affectionate or feelings connection that communicates that you really like somebody. This phileo love is so strong that people who are not even Christians can seem to love each other so much as friends that if they got separated by death or sickness or distance, they become really sad. They are brokenhearted. You can be brokenhearted with this kind of love. But agape love is a love that is beyond human love. It is the kind of love that God has for us. If we really knew, even at this very moment how much God loves us, how much he loves every person, we would be amazed. He loves us so much and he wants to be very close to each of us and wants to really know us and for us to know Him but he can’t make a compromise of just allowing us to know him when we haven’t really desired him or we haven’t really sought him. He is going to stay at a little bit of a distance, even though he wants to smother us with his love. We cannot fully comprehend this kind of love. We cannot fully fathom it. We don’t have the capacity to understand his love until we start to seek him more and to get closer into his presence, then when we start to experience his love more than we ever have before, we will begin to be transformed and changed. Our capacity for receiving his love will change and our capacity to give love back to him will change. It is like a man and a woman’s relationship. They might have a physical attraction that causes them to be together in a physical way, but what about that real depth of intimacy that has to do with friendship and love and communication? You can’t manufacture this. You have to cultivate it. You have to work at it. It has to be something that is worked through and it grows with time. Husbands and wives even after years and years together don’t even fully realize what love is. They may say that they have fallen out of love because they don’t have the romantic kind of love that they see on the movie screen, but there is a depth of friendship and there is a depth of relationship and there is a depth of communication that develops in real love. The love that Jesus had for his disciples is the same kind of love he wants us to have for each other, and this is a very, very deep thing.
In John, Chapter 17, almost the whole chapter is a prayer of Jesus. In the very first verse it says, “Jesus lifted his eyes up to heaven….” He began talking to the Father. He was praying about different things but then he was praying for his disciples. About 6 or 7 times in this prayer he offers up his disciples to the Father saying, “Oh, Father, I want them to be one. I want them to know you. I have walked with them. They have come to know me and because they have come to know me they have come to know you because you sent me.” That is what the whole chapter is about. Father, I am one with you and you are one with me and they have begun to become one with me and I want them to be one with you and I want them to be one with each other. I don’t want them to get angry with each other. I don’t want them to argue with each other about who is the greatest or get mad at each other. Nothing will ruin revival more than division. That is exactly how Satan can stop revivals, is by having somebody become suspicious of somebody else, having somebody get mad at somebody else, having the leadership getting mad at each other and saying, this revival is no good and we need to stop this. Or maybe the leadership is getting mad at some faction in the church. And some people in the church are getting mad about what is going on over there. Satan will be very active to stop revival. He will be able to stop revival when people become suspicious of each other, divide from one another, talk behind each other’s backs, saying, I don’t think they have a good motive for this and I think they are doing the wrong thing and so on. In John 17 the prayer of was that they might be one, so that the world would know, that the disciples might be unified so that the world will know. That is what is also said in John 13. Jesus gives a command that we might love one another with the same depth of love that he has loved us, so that the world will know that we are his disciples because of the love that we have for one another. If there is a revival where everybody loves each other with this kind of love, we will not divide and it will not end, no matter what Satan throws at us. Whatever Satan throws at us, his purpose is to divide and conquer. A house divided cannot stand. In war they say, “Divide and Conquer.” But a house united can stand.
All of this talk about unity, oneness, and so on, does that mean we all have to believe the same things? No. But we all have to love each other so much that we are able to have patience with one another and if somebody doesn’t understand something then let it be OK for a time. Just keep praying, and maybe we all will come to learn more and see more clearly the way to go. Maybe, with patience, we will help others to understand more. But maybe they will never completely understand the thing you are trying to say. If they never do, it doesn’t matter, because that is up to God to teach them and train them and change them. It is up to God to help people to understand His ways. If he doesn’t break through and help them to understand, we just have to keep forgiving and we have to keep loving. Remember the garment in Col. 3, in humbleness of mind, in meekness, in kindness, in forbearance, in forgiveness. It is the garment we need and it is not present in the Church as it ought to be, the lack of it causes churches to just have human love or to be divided. If Satan comes in and says, hey, something is going on here, they are getting close to revival, I’m going to cause trouble. He is going to go to the weakest link, to someone that doesn’t know about this love or is going to start talking behind people’s backs. If we start thinking about negative things we may start talking negatively about others. We are not supposed to talk negatively behind people’s backs. We are not even supposed to think negatively because thinking negatively will lead us to have a sour attitude about someone.
In John 17:21 it says, “That they may all be one as the Father is in me and as I am in you, Father, that they may be one so that the world will believe that you have sent me.” Then in Jn. 17:25 & 26 it says, “Oh righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee, and these have known thee, through me. They know that I was sent from you and I have declared unto them your name and I will continue to declare it and then after I go the Holy Spirit will continue to declare it—that the love wherewith you have loved me may be in them and I in them.” Now, that is the only place that I know in that chapter that it talks about love. It is talking about unity, oneness, but really, these are the same things. Then, Jesus is saying, the love that the Father has for the Son, that that love would be in them. It is not just them loving God—Oh, I love God so much, I love him so much, I’ll do anything for him, but then you treat people bad. Something is wrong if we say we love God but don’t love people. Is the love of God really in us? It will be painful to forgive people. It will be painful to have patience with people, that is why patience is called longsuffering. It is painful to deal with selfish, ungrateful, unlovely, mean, enemies, hurtful people, but what God is going to do is he is going to tear down your fleshly reactions and tear down your human reactions, as we might say, “Well, I don’t like them because they have never been nice to me. They have never said hi to me. They have always been cold towards me and I am going to be cold toward them.” Then how are we different than the world? Where will our reward be if we can’t break out of this way of thinking? The only way is to have God show us and birth in us agape love and show us the path of agape love, which is an unconditional love that has nothing to do with others actions or our responses. This is the kind of love that God has toward us. He wants us, he sees what we will look like when we are close to him, he will change us if we will bow at his feet. His love for us is so deep. He is longing for us to be in relationship with him. He is longing for us to be deep enough where we can understand his love more. We are understanding it like children now. He is wanting to bring us into a bride relationship, a husband and wife relationship, a mature love relationship.
If you say to yourself, I want to build my relationship with the Lord, I want to have such a close walk with him and such a close intimacy with him, and people that you meet might even be proud of their intimate relationship with the Lord. But if this close relationship with the Lord doesn’t flower into a deeper love for people and if you don’t see love in that person, then that person could even be fooled into thinking that they have some kind of great closeness to God but it hasn’t birthed in them the love we are talking about here. One of God’s larger purposes for having a close relationship with his people is that we might win this spiritual war against evil, showing his love to the world and his glory. This revival that God wants to do now is in the midst of a great war. It is a war in your own soul because God is trying to break down things that are in our life that are going to keep you from walking closer to him and he is going to break down barriers in relationship that are keeping people from being close. Because all that God is going to do on every front, he is going to do it internally. He is going to do it as we relate to and connect with people. Because without this love for one another, the world is not going to see true revival. All they are going to see is a bunch of people who are trying to be close to God in church buildings or in homes and they are not going to see people who love each other and weather through every storm, every onslaught of Satan in which he is going to try to destroy anything that God begins to do.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 Paul says, “I have been so affectionately desirous of you that I was willing to impart to you, not just the gospel only but also entrust to you our own souls because you have become so very dear to us.” What happened to Paul is that his intimate relationship with the Lord was building and building and he was getting more revelation and a closer walk with the Lord, and the Lord was expanding his heart to make his heart like the heart of the Father. He was beginning to have so much love for people, that no matter what they did to him he was loving them more. God had opened up in him such a new capacity to understand His love and to be able to give love back to the Father and to everyone around him with the Father’s love, and the Father was transforming him and changing him into the most kind, loving, affectionate, whatever that garment was in Colossians chapter 3, that’s what he was becoming. He just walked in kindness, forgiveness, forbearance, and so on. You may say, well, aren’t we lifting Paul up too high. It doesn’t matter, because the Word says of Jesus’ disciples, I want you to love one another as I have loved you. Why would he say that if we weren’t capable of it? He also says, I want you to be one like the Father is one with Jesus—I want you to be one like that, too. It is going to take a supernatural agape love to live like that. You may say, this is unthinkable. We can’t do it. We are never going to be able to do that because of our human nature. But, God is preparing a Bride that is longing for this and is seeing that it is possible, and in the whole process of us coming closer to the Lord we are going to be changed so that we will begin to have his heart to love others and God is going to help us. This is what we see in II Corinthians 6:11-14. The Corinthian church did not really like Paul very much. They liked other people more than Paul. They really had a problem with Paul but they were being immature and fleshly, because Paul was much closer to God then they could really understand. Because they didn’t have the capacity to love him but he had a large capacity to love them’ he never gave up on them. The Word says, “Oh, ye Corinthians, our mouth is open to you, in other words, we are speaking to you, all these wonderful things and our heart is enlarged. Meaning, our heart has been broadened and enlarged. But, then, he says in verse 12, yet you have constricted your hearts, (it says in the King James Version, straightened) “You are straightened in your own bowels.” So, you say, what does that mean? What it says in another translation is, there is no lack of room for you in our hearts but you lack room in your own hearts for us. In other words, our hearts are enlarged, we have you in our hearts, but you have pushed us out of your hearts and your hearts are constricted. Then, in verse 13, it says, Please do this—and I am speaking to you even as I would speak to children, open wide your hearts to us and don’t keep being constricted, because we love you and you are in our hearts. To have a large heart that welcomes everyone in is the kind of heart the Father has and he wants us to have His heart for people. It is true that many people don’t want his love and ignore Him (as they will do to us) but He is Holy and full of compassion toward everyone if they will only turn to Him. But all of them will see his glory (upon us) and some will turn to him.
This is the call of the Spirit, for those who have ears to hear, let us hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church. The Spirit is saying to the Church, the world hasn’t seen love, the world hasn’t seen unity, and they are never going to wake-up and realize that God is alive until they see this love and this unity and we are never going to have this love by attempting it in human strength. Human strength will fail but we will attain this love by our increasing relationship with the Lord. Not even a human standard of love will do, but something way beyond anything that we have seen before. God wants to create something that Satan will not be able to break. How beautiful His Bride will be adorned with this garment of love.