I feel as an unarmed man when I get in a discussion with others about theology. Maybe that is why I write instead of preach. I am better at the written word than the spoken word. Too many times I so wish I could have gone back to a conversation and speak what I know to be the truth as opposed to the Law. God’s law was a guide for sinners to take heed of and try to be righteous on their own. Without Jesus, this was the only way righteousness could be attained. God realized this problem not too long after the world began, that without a savior, we cannot, on our own, be righteous and free from our sin. This is the reason He sent us Jesus; to take our sins, and to establish a relationship with His children, as He had intended in the beginning. He wants us to be free from the world around us, and lean on and Love on Him.
Without His love, I found that I was incapable of loving others. I did not know what Love was until the day I died the old me and he changed me forever. Since my rebirth, I have found how imperfect our feeble attempt of Love really was. I said the words “I love you” a thousand times, but was ready at any minute to turn and walk away from those I “loved”. I didn’t love, truthfully I had no idea what it meant to really Love someone, until Jesus, showed me. Now, though others were not fond of being second fiddle to
Jesus at first, those loved ones know that my love now, is something they never had from me before.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8.(NKJV)
Before I go along I need to break this down to show you about this Love that I do not think has permeated the hearts of most men and women. Words in the bible get lost as we seek our own definition to suit ourselves. As men we do just that, we seek our own for our own satisfaction. Even those of us who are saved and know Jesus in such an intimate way, we still seek our own and get frustrated in the disciplines. Love, as we see it in our minimal aspects resonates around family and even as far as friends maybe. Far be it for us to embrace the murderer on death row and express true love to him. Far be it for us to express our Love to those who have wronged us personally in the past, be it an old girlfriend, a car accident that took part of life away as we knew it. From the book Miracle at the Garage, I found myself in unfamiliar territory when after receiving my salvation from Jesus Christ. 18 months after my salvation when praying one night I heard the direction of the Holy Spirit to go back to a men’s group I had departed for good as far as I was concerned. But as far as God was concerned I was not done there. As the sound of obedience echoed in my mind, I succumbed to the awesome pressure of the Lord and I went back to that men’s group at the Garage ministry. Then only to be reintroduced to the man who had previously struck me in a hit and run accident two years earlier while I was on my bicycle. In a flash as if I was not in control of my sense, but something supernaturally took hold of me and I threw my arms around him and gave him my unconditional love right then and there. God primed me for this encounter by having my neighbor bring me a book about forgiveness just the week prior and I finished it the night before. That is the Love we need to harbor in our hearts. It is time to get serious about this Love. With this God Love you will find, that in extending forgiveness to those who have harmed us in the past, you will find yourself loving the loveless, and furthermore, showing Jesus to the least of these.
Though we may have the gifts spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13, but do not have Love we are worth nothing. As God delves out the gifts to us in our ministry, and if we use them, but do so without love, we are nothing to be remarked of. What good is anything in this world or the next without Love? Answer me please. Simple pleasures of money, fame, friendships with strings, material possessions that drain the supply of cash, do nothing but keep food from the mouths of those we are supposed to be showing Jesus to. Tears are flowing now as I sit and write thinking about that loss of Love on this earth, though we say we Love. Wake up people, we don’t know Love, we act it out on the pretense of what we were handed down by our parents before us, that’s not Love.
All of my life, I travelled living in a different part of the world. Sometimes I would even go back to some of the places I lived before to try them again. Now after being born again in the Spirit of the Lord, I have found that I will not be able to come home, until the Lord brings me there. I am forever going to be wandering this earth until Jesus brings me home to heaven, that is the whole reason I have never been home anywhere on this planet. Funniest part is that I have spent as much time at sea as I have on land, and I feel more at home there than anywhere else.
I love my wife and my children, but I also love the sea. It is the hardest yet strangest duality of life I can imagine. I look forward to both when I am in either place. I look forward to being home with my family when I am gone for weeks or months. As well I look forward to getting back to sea when I am at home. All in all though, when I am in the presenceof the Lord either at sea or at home with family, then I am really home. He so loves me, and I Him, he is my daddy, and I his son, and I can tell Him anything. I remember how excited I was to go and tell my mom about something great that happened, and when she passed I no longer had that outlet. Now that I have a new father in heaven, I can again run in excitement, fear, anger, love, and any other emotion, to go tell Him about what I just saw, heard, felt, or accomplished. I awake a new day with Him everyday, and that joy has given me a hope that can only be experienced when you have asked Jesus to be your savior. Hope that is beyond anything this world can offer.
John the Baptist’s mission to “prepare the way for the Lord.”
The first time we hear of John is when Mary visits her older cousin, Elizabeth, and that at the sound of Mary’s voice, the infant John, leaps in Elizabeth’s womb. Of course, we have no scriptural evidence of the boyhood relationship between John and Jesus, but we can imagine that they were close, that they would have grown up seeing one another on family occasions, as is common with cousins. We can imagine that they talked, and as they got older, those conversations must have grown more and more reflective. We can imagine them talking about God with ever deeper intensity as they grew older. This would not have been unusual as John’s father was a priest in the Temple, and Mary and Joseph were deeply steeped in prayer and the scriptures, and they were holy in every way.
Zechariah, John’s father, had been struck dumb for doubting the angel’s word to him while he was serving in the Holy of Holies of the Temple, that he and his wife would have a child in their old age. He had not been able to speak for a long time. At John’s circumcision ceremony, their friends and neighbors asked if the child would be named Zechariah, after his father. But Elizabeth said, “No his name is John.” They were all surprised because there was no one in Zechariah’s family who had that name. Zechariah asked for a piece of paper and wrote, “His name is John.” At that moment he began to speak, praising God. Everyone was filled with awe and all began to ask, “What is this child going to be?”
Zechariah then begins to prophesy about the Messiah and his son’s role in announcing that the Lord has finally come to his people. He begins, “Let us praise the Lord, the God of Israel! He has come to the help of his people and has set them free. He has provided for us a Savior, a descendant of his servant David.” Then, about his son, John: “You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God. You will go ahead of the Lord to prepare his road for him, to tell his people that they will be saved by having their sins forgiven.” (Luke 1:57-80)
John grew and became that final prophet of the Lord, living in the desert. The word of God came to John in the desert and John began preaching his message of baptism for the forgiveness of their sins throughout the region of the Jordan River, He used the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Someone is shouting in the desert; ‘Get the road ready for the Lord…All mankind will see God’s salvation!” (Luke 3:4-6)
John the Baptist gave his whole will and energy to the effort to tell the people to prepare themselves to meet the One promised from the time of Abraham. He told the people of God that the long-awaited promise of their salvation had finally come.
John’s call to the people out there in the desert along the Jordan River still echoes through the two thousand years since that time. Today that voice is shouting in the desert of our own hearts, telling each one of us, right here, right now, “Prepare a way for the Lord” in your own heart. Your salvation is present. The Lord has become one of us, and one with us, by entering the very heart of human history. But because God is God, He not only entered history, but He wishes to enter into the intimate space of each of our own hearts, right here and right now.
Prepare a way for the Lord to enter your heart then. Rise each morning hearing John’s voice crying out in the desert of your own heart. Bend your knees and your will to welcome Jesus into your heart every morning. Make of your own heart a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit so that you might become a prophet, like John, for the people in your daily life. By uniting your will to God’s will, you will be invited into the mystery of God’s infinite love and you will become an instrument for that love in your daily world. Thanks be to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of infinite mercy who has freed us from the darkness of sin and called us into the light of his Kingdom. Amen!
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We sometimes see relationships and connections change when betrayals occur. I got to thinking of the betrayal that Jesus suffered, He was betrayed with a kiss. He was betrayed with denial, He was betrayed with those who fled and hid. He died with one disciple sticking it out to the very end.
I go back in my thinking to the Upper Room, when the last preparation of the disciples was laid out. When we consider Jesus breaking leadership concepts with the washing of feet! Jesus, at all costs and with great urgency set to prepare the disciples for the greatest challenge that the Upper Room set to prepare them for. When we consider scripture we see that this Upper Room was rented until Pentecost. It was a place of servanthood, of consternation, of betrayal, of truth, of love. When we consider Judas was exposed as a betrayer, and when we consider the heart of Jesus breaking as He faced a cruel death. Nothing explains and shows us the type of death as in the film, “the Passion” which the tormentors and torturers GAINED a demonic pleasure of whipping Jesus in all manner of ways.
When we conjure up those images in the mind of Jesus we understand the sighs of that Upper Room scene. When we consider the mindset of the disciples of their understanding of Power and Authority and the nature of the Kingdom in an oppressed age, we see an urgency and a brutality that Jesus had to use to break this in the lives of the disciples. The Upper Room was this preparation.
When we consider how all those who betrayed and fled, who locked themselves in that place, in fear. When we consider how Jesus showed Himself in that place, in a new and living way. How He charged them to “tarry” in that place. That Upper Room where mentalities were broken and where new ones were taught. Where opinions and politics were broken and where a new way was demonstrated in the Risen Lord. Here eternity met time. And ultimately how the Spirit was poured out here.
Our very lives must become a Upper Room, where Jesus breaks attitudes and opinions, so that we embrace a new Kingdom and receive the Power to demonstrate that Kingdom.
A place where the GREATEST defeat was feared, was the place where the GREATEST faith was faced!
Embrace your Upper Room today. It is a process to power that passes through breaking into humility, love for a loveless world, and a purpose and commission to fulfil. As you enter that intimacy with Jesus your view of power and authority is not what you exercise but what you exude by love!
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As I think about things in my life that were great, I can now see where God was there. As I look back at all of the bad, even horrible things, I can see God was there too. I am sure that God hates those things that have happened, but still uses them to mold us to who we are. My Chaplain was talking about the Clay and the Potter yesterday, and it is so fitting. Who are we to tell the Potter how to mold us? God the potter, who has his hands on us all of the time is doing the molding that needs to be done for our better good. If He were though to take his hands off in the middle of his molding, instead of keeping His hands on, we would collapse and He would have to start over, or just throw us away.
Father God, in your infinite wisdom, please keep your hands on us, as we need to be molded into what you need us to be. Without your loving hands we would be nothing at all. Forgive us for trying to do good works to buy favor in your name, as we know they are nothing more than dirty rags. We Love you and ask that you stay with us, even through our iniquities and suffering, as there is no one who could comfort us or cinvict us the way you do. Thank you Jesus, for your sacrifice on the cross, and the Love you have given us to interceded for us on the Father’s behalf. Amen