Who or What Is the Object of Your Love?

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2.15-16

John issues a stern warning here to every believer. His caution to us is that we not fall in love with the “things that are in the world.” I think everyone reading this would agree that we live in a materialistic age. Life seems to be all about how much “stuff” we can accumulate. Let’s see if we can further define what he is saying: do not love this world system – a system that is narcissistic to the core – and do not love the things that this world offers us as some kind of answer to a vacuum that only God can fill.

To state his case a little more clearly, John tells us that Satan has not changed his tactics of seduction to draw us away from all that God has to offer. The same plan he used to seduce Eve in Genesis 3 is that same plan he uses today on God’s people: (1) the lust of the flesh, (2) the lust of the eyes, and (3) the pride of life. It worked on Eve but did not work on the sinless son of God. He also tied to seduce Jesus when He was led away into the wilderness.

So what does this mean to us? None of these are from our Heavenly Father. Satan is the great counterfeiter and he does all in his power to keep us from a close walk with our Heavenly Father. You and I must be aware of Satan’s tactics and we must reject them – sometimes with an audible voice: “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw nigh to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts ye . Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded.” These are words of action for the believer, not words for consideration. Just My Thoughts …

 

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It Is Not a Magic Formula – It Is Faith

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Luke 6.38

So many of God’s children misunderstand what giving is all about. One of the things I hear most is, “All the preacher talks about is money.” We need to come to grips with the truth that giving is a measure of one’s faith. The words above were spoken by Jesus. He challenges us to exercise our faith by giving first and then the blessings will come. If we cannot trust God with our money, what else can we not trust God with?

Look at the emphasis stated in this first phrase: “Give, and it shall be given unto you … ” These are not empty words spoken to fill part of a page in Luke’s gospel. This is a declaration by the son of God that says, “When you obey, the blessings will come.” To expand on this issue, Jesus says: “ … good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.” What is going to happen when we give? More than we can ever imagine. I am fearful that some will read this and simply conclude, “I will give so I can get more.” In reality we do not give in order to get. We give in order to get so we can give again. The blessings keep coming when we keep giving.

Now let’s look at this last phrase: “For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Here is God’s promise to His children. The measure of blessing that will come back to you will be in proportion to that which you have given. I don’t really think we misunderstand this truth. I think some simply do not think it is true. Remember this – you cannot out give God. Just my thoughts …

 

What Are YOU Thinking?

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4.8

I am not sure we realize how much our THOUGHT life controls us – our attitude, our feelings, and our behavior. But the Apostle Paul knew the power of what one thinks. So when we read these words “whatsoever things … ” we must not gloss over them as though they were meant for someone else. He clearly had the Philippian believers (and us too) in mind.

If we link the two preceding verses with this one, we discover a valuable lesson: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

We must not try to separate these verses from each other. They belong together. Paul tells that if we will pray about every thing and worry about nothing, in exchange God will give us His peace that this world cannot understand. And in addition to that, He will “keep (our) hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

When we deliberately do the things God tells us to do in His Word, the result is a right thought life. And that right thought life is the result of learning HOW to “think on (the right) things.” Satan’s point of attack is ALWAYS the mind. He cannot make us DO anything we don’t want to do. His trick is to try to make what we think about doing so attractive that we believe we are the exception to the rule and we won’t get caught.

But the Scripture says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 5 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Just my thoughts …

How Is This Love Perfected?

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4.11-12

I love reading the Epistles of John. He gives us such practical instruction. We ought not have to be told to love one another, but the Holy Spirit has John record this principle here FOR US. One translation (NLT) says, “Since God loved us that much …” It is a given truth that God loved us. Should it not be a given truth that we love one another (remember that John is speaking to believers here)?

We must not simply say we love others in the family of God; we must actually display the agape love of which John and Paul speak. That love is defined like this: “No matter what you do to me, I will seek nothing but your highest good.”

But what is the real point of these two verses? We find it in the last part of v. 12: “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” What is John saying with this phrase: “his love is perfected in us.” Again, let’s look a little clearer phrasing: “his love has been brought to full expression through us.” As we begin to mature in our walk with the Lord, His love can then be demonstrated in us and ultimately through us. Isn’t that the whole point of the Christian life – to have God’s love reflected in our lives?

If we can’t love those whom the Father has already redeemed, how can we love those who are still rejecting Him and have refused to receive His Son? If I read these verses correctly, John is saying that God’s love is “perfected in us” when we “love one another.” So let’s be about the Father’s business as we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter what they do or how they act. Just My Thoughts …

What Does the World Have to Offer?

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6.14

These words of Paul to the Galatian Christians give us cause to examine our own lives today. Read these words carefully: “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ … ” It is SO easy to want to glory in ourselves when something happens in our lives. But when things are NOT going so good, we begin to look for someone to blame for what has happened to us.

The Apostle Paul spent a substantial amount of time in Roman prisons, but he did not allow his external circumstances to affect his joy and his ability to “glory … in the cross …” Whether he was in chains with a Roman guard on each side or on the street preaching, he gloried “in the cross of … Christ.”

Now see his perspective: “by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” What does it mean to be “crucified” to the world? The only purpose for crucifixion is death. Paul is telling us that he is dead to the world. When someone is dead, nothing that is going on around them has any effect on them. You can say what you want about them and it has no affect. You can do what you want to the body, and it has no affect. Paul is telling these Galatian Christians and us that the world has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to offer him that could possibly make any difference in his life.

Here is the question we must answer: “How are WE responding to this world and all that it offers us?” Are we affected by what people SAY about us? Are we adversely affected by what people DO to us? OR … are we DEAD to the world? To use Paul’s words, have we been “crucified” to the world? Only you can answer that question and the answer is between you and God. Just my thoughts …

Better Watch Out!

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10.13

I don’t think most of us really believe this verse. Why would I say that? Because when we get caught in responding to temptation in our lives, what is the first thing we say? “I couldn’t help myself.” Now if God always tells the truth, then someone here is lying and trying to shift the blame. Yes, temptation is common – it comes to each of us, perhaps in different forms, but it still comes. Paul’s next phrase is the one to which we need to take heed: “ … but God IS faithful …”  This phrase, “God is faithful” is crucial to understanding the full conditions of what God has promised: (1) He will NOT suffer me to be tempted above that I am able to bear, (2) He will with the temptation make a way to escape, (3) that I may be able to bear it.
The question then becomes, “Do I WANT to escape it?” You know that your hotspot for being tempted isn’t the same as someone else’s. God knows it and Satan knows it too. It doesn’t matter HOW he tempts others. The key thing is do you KNOW how he tempts you? Once you have identified his method, then you can be on the lookout for his next attack. The question is NOT “will he attack me again,” but rather, “When will he attack me again and am I ready to look for God’s way of escape?” Your attitude toward Satan’s attack is everything. If you WANT to escape, you CAN. If you approach temptation with a careless spirit, thinking you can handle it, you won’t. Watch Out! Just My Thoughts  …

Time Is Precious – Guard It Well!

“Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: (25) Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.” Proverbs 22.24-25

The longer I live, the more I encounter people who have a “built-in” anger that never goes away. When you speak to them, the words that come out of their mouths may be TRUE, but they are so HURTFUL it is difficult to process them. What little bit I know about anger continually reminds me that “anger is a choice.” That simply means that I must CHOOSE to be angry – either with someone or with some circumstance that is past. IF it is a CHOICE to be angry (and it is), then we also have the CHOICE of choosing NOT to be angry. Solomon’s words here are words of caution, to be sure: “make NO friendship with an angry man …” If I spend my time around NEGATIVE people, before long I find myself THINKING like they think their negativity has rubbed off on me The same is true if we choose to spend our time around angry people. Solomon tells us that there is a consequence when we choose to spend our time with angry people. That consequence is that I will “get a snare to (my) soul.” I have enough trouble keeping my soul unencumbered with the cares of life itself. I certainly don’t need to allow someone else to contribute to the process.
Let me encourage you today to make wise choices for the use of your time. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom in discerning where and  how to spend your time. Just My Thoughts  …

Don’t Mess With It!

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10.13

TEMPTATION – who among us likes to be tempted? None of us ever set out on a day’s journey to see how many times we can be tempted. But we know that at any turn of the road, any encounter with others, any unchecked thought life we can be facing temptation head on. We must first be thankful that Jesus knows what temptation is all about. The Bible says that He was “tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4.15) Satan’s tactics have not changed since his first encounter with the human race in Genesis 3. The three categories of temptation are: (1) the lust of the flesh, (2) the lust of the eyes, and (3) the pride of life. Sometimes we become so “fixed” on the first phrase of the verse above that we fail to see this promise: “but God is faithful …” God is faithful to everyone of His children. How do I know this? Because of the remainder of this verse and because of my own personal experiences with God and temptation. Look at these words: God “will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able …” That is not just a pious thought, that is a promise from your Heavenly Father. Now look closely at these words: God “will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Do you see it? A way to escape! The desire to embrace the temptation must be overcome by the words from your Heavenly Father that there IS a way to escape – look for it! You CAN bear the temptation without yielding to it. God says you can. Just My Thoughts  …

Pastor Jerry

“It’s A Package Deal!”

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. ” Hebrews 7.25

There are two significant thoughts contained here: (1) He is able to save us to the uttermost since we have come to God the Father through Him; (2) He ever lives to make intercession for us.
To “save to the uttermost” indicates that God is able to save us to the greatest extent possible – thus there is nothing about us that He is unable to save – think TOTAL SALVATION. To me, the significance of this statement is that there is nothing concerning me or my life that God is unable to affect by saving me and placing me into His family – the family of God. Once I am able to accept that total salvation, then I am in a position to come to grips with the truth that Christ ever live “to make intercession for us.” Christ’s major task that He performs for us regularly is to INTERCEDE for us. He goes to His Father and intercedes for you and me EVERY TIME we sin or are in need. Here are John’s words to us on this matter: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” (1 John 2.1) The Perfectly Righteous One is engaged in interceding for us – we have been declared righteous, but we still live in bodies with a spirit that still longs to sin. There is never going to be a time when He is NOT interceding for us until He takes us home through death or through the rapture. So salvation is really a “package deal” – we receive eternal life, and that is the guarantee of heaven, and we receive an Intercessor for our sins UNTIL we reach heaven. Praise the Lord! Just My Thoughts  …

Pastor Jerry

Different? Really? Yes!!!

“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; (4) Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” Ephesians 5.3-4

There are times when Christ-followers seem to get so accustomed to this world system and the way it thinks and behaves that we get swallowed up by its philosophy and begin to be “just like them.” In these verses Paul clearly draws a line in the sand when it comes to our behavior. He cautions us against buying into the things the world accepts as “normal”. He specifically names “fornication,” “uncleanness,” and “covetousness” in v. 3 and then continues in v. 4 with “filthiness,” “foolish talking” and “jesting.” As believers, we are called to a different standard of living than those who are not believers. It is NOT ok to be sexually active before marriage or outside of marriage just because the world accepts it. It is NOT ok to dabble in pornography and other habits that would make us morally impure just because the world accepts it. It is NOT ok to be covetous or greedy in trying to get ahead in life “because that is the way everybody else I know acts.” One translation gives v. 4 like this: “obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes – these are not for you. Instead let there be thankfulness to God.”
Paul calls God’s children “saints.” A saint is not some person who has been recognized by some high church who has called them “saints.” A saint is one of God’s children(.) Nothing else needs to be added. We are called to a life of “thanksgiving.” Let’s not compromise who we are as a “saint” of God just because the world behaves differently. Let’s allow them to see the difference Christ makes in EVERY part of life – including our speech and our behavior. Just my thoughts …

Pastor Jerry