FROM MY HEART: MY GREATEST DESIRE ON MY 60TH BIRTHDAY

I’ll be 60 at the end of this month. It’s hard to believe. Where has time gone? It seems like yesterday I was a young single man in Bible school. The fire of God and zeal for the Lord that was in my heart then still remains, only in a different way.

The trials and seasons of a man’s life have a way of maturating wisdom, patience, and love in him if he’ll stay close to Jesus. I don’t have many regrets in my life, but one thing I wish I learned earlier was to love better. But love is a fruit and it doesn’t grow overnight.

For example, whenever I’d try speaking to a God mocker or a scoffer who was throwing insults at me I’d say something like, “We’ll see how tough you are when you stand before God and He tells you to depart from Him and casts you into hell.” Unless really prompted by the Spirit to do so, I would never say that to a God mocker today. Instead, I’d feel so sorry for him and see him in a totally different light.

The love that has been in me since my new birth is stronger and more developed now (Rom. 5:5), and I still have a long way to go. I see this same work done in John the beloved as he went from a son of thunder who wanted to call fire down from heaven (Lk. 9:54) to a great apostle of love who writes his final letters to the saints so tenderly (1,2,3 John). I, too was a son of thunder, and did not know what spirit I was of. Ha!

When I was a very young convert one of the first impressions I had from the Spirit of God was this, which I wrote in the first person:

“Like the apostle John and his brother James I use to be a son of thunder until the Lord my God tucked me under His wing, nursed me, cared for me, and patched up my wounds. Then He sent me from the nest into all the world and I became a lovebird, sharing that great love with others wherewith the Lord my God loved me first.” I wrote it down and dated it: (12/8/82).

I used to love to preach more than I loved people, but everyone has a starting point. I’d preach without hardly taking a breath, so it seemed, and sometimes I didn’t have as many words as I did fire. I was described by someone as a fire hydrant, but instead of water gushing forth, fire would come out. I burned many people until the Lord began to teach me and lead into a greater love. Today the intensity of the fire of God is still there, but the love for people has grown. Thank God.

As I celebrate my 60th birthday on July 28, which also happens to be my wedding anniversary to Carolyn, my greatest aim and goal in my remaining years is not to have a bigger ministry or greater influence, or to even write more books, but it is to love others better with the love of God and to see them though God’s eyes. When you go that route it is difficult to miss God in your life because your motives will then  always be pure.

The real love of God has two outstanding characteristics. It is quick to repent and quick to forgive. Boy, if you ever cultivate those two traits in your walk with God, you will cut off a major access point to the devil in your life. He will not be able to easily steal, kill, and destroy you.

I know one thing that has helped me immeasurably throughout my marriage has been that I refuse to let the sun go down on my wrath (Eph. 5:26). I refuse to go to bed angry or in strife with my wife. In the MEV translation the second part of that verse reads this way: “Don’t go to bed angry.” Marriage is the strongest bond of agreement and you would be unwise to choke that bond by allowing strife into your marriage. As one older man of God used to say, “I’ve passed up wonderful opportunities to stay in strife with my wife.” Be the bigger man and apologize and make it right before going to bed.

This counsel will save your marriage, your life, your health, and secure your eternal reward. God’s protection, favor, and prosperity will be upon your children and children’s children all the days of your life.

A man of love will stand in the gap for others who have sinned and ask God to forgive them and give them life (1 Jn. 5:16), instead of wishing them ill-will or judgement. Love covers a multitude of sins.

Love is the greatest of all Christian attributes and love always wins. So if you want to offer me a gift for  my 60th birthday, pray Phil. 1:9-11 and Eph. 3:14-21 for me. I will be very grateful.

 

 

 

 

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SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS: THE BITTER FRUIT OF THE LAW

When is the last time you walked into a room full of people and all you thought about was them? How can I be a blessing to them, how can I make their day, how can I bring encouragement and joy to their heart? How deep can a man go into selflessness where he is no longer concerned about himself, thinking of himself—thinking of ways to get ahead, to put himself in the best possible light in all conversations and appearances, to look good, to impress others and to project an image of himself that belies who he really is? Did Jesus ever live a day with that sort of mindset?

Why do men do this? Could this selfishness and self-focus be the larger part of what Jesus came to free us from?

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

Is not self-consciousness the largest part of the bitter fruit of what the law produces? And is not cultivating a God-consciousness and beholding the glory of the Lord, as in a mirror, with your heart, the solution toward this sort of radical transformation Jesus came to bring (2 Cor. 3:16-18)? Is this not the bigger part of what it means to grow up into Him and mature? Is not coming to Him and learning of Him what produces selflessness in our lives and a blessed rest where we quit striving to be someone, to achieve something, to be great as the world counts greatness?

TRUE DISCIPLES OF JESUS ARE KNOWN BY LOVE

Many churches are known for many different things. Some are known for prophecy or their charismatic gifts, some for benevolence, some for their good singing or great preaching, etc. but how many are known for their love, not in word but in deed (1 Jn. 3:18)?

Here’s where much of the body of Christ is at today.

“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a gluttonous man, a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is justified by her children” (Matt. 11:18-19).

Our words and actions often fail to justify that we are the children of God. We argue, we fuss and we constantly engage in doctrinal disputes. Many seem to be consistently looking to pick a fight, to grumble and complain about things, and to never be satisfied unless their own opinions and points of view are heard. Our strife and division are our most frequent and consistent witness to the world. But listen to what Jesus said:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

How did Jesus love us? He denied Himself totally and completely to reconcile us to God. He brought to us the highest life by a firm committal to His death on the cross. His deepest motivation was to go as low as He could go to lift us up as high as we could go—the lowest death producing the highest life. He endured this death because we were His joy.

“Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).

Should not this be our aim—to be like Him? To be conformed to His image? To love as He loved? How else will the world know that we are indeed Jesus’ disciples?

CAN’T LOVE UNLESS WE KNOW WE’RE LOVED

But it is the revelation that we are loved by Him that will ultimately produce the beginning of this transformation in our lives. We must constantly be receiving His love in order to release His love. The greatest glory we can experience on the earth is to know how loved we are by God. When we live loved, we will manifest His love to others.

When you truly commune with God you lose what you don’t need, and gain what you need in His presence. You lose those burdensome, weary, burned out physical and emotional feelings that come from constant striving, and you gain real rest in your soul that comes from His grace and knowing His love. This Scripture blesses me immensely and gives me a glimpse into real freedom:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matt. 11:28, MSG).

Some Christians pray and worship regularly, read the Bible faithfully, attend church consistently and constantly show God how much they love Him, but still have no peace and mental freedom. What’s the problem?

The revelatory truth of how much they are loved by God has not yet gripped them. They see themselves through their own weaknesses and shortcomings instead of through the eyes of the love of Christ. Their pursuit of God is from a position of somehow trying to earn His love instead of from position of already being loved.

This is one of the greatest prayers that we can pray for ourselves and for one another:

“That He would give you, according to the riches of His glory, power to be strengthened by His Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:16-19).

The fullness of God is to know His love which is beyond our intellectual capacity and knowledge. To be filled with the revelation of God’s love is to be filled with all His fulness. There is nothing greater. As believers, we’ve got to move past identifying ourselves with anyone or anything—whether they be our failures, our greatest achievements/accomplishments, man’s acceptance and approval, what we do or don’t do, our jobs/careers, churches, ministries, finances and so on. and move into a full-fledged identity with His love.

The heart that knows he is loved by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ ceases to look elsewhere for love, peace and satisfaction. His delight is in the Lord. He has found his dwelling place and his rest in Him. When you receive a revelation of His deep love for you, it will put such a delight and contentment in your soul. It is then that you will truly live free and full.

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THE MOST PRECIOUS WORK GOD DOES IN A MAN’S HEART

Ephesians 1 and Ephesians 3 contain two Spirit-inspired prayers for all saints. The essence of these prayers are for us to have a spirit of wisdom and revelation–some refer to this as “the spirit of seeing and knowing”, and secondly, for us to be filled with the fulness of the love of Christ.

Consider the impact and transformation in our lives when we are walking in the manifestation of what these prayers comprise. What more do we need when we have spiritual accuracy in our lives that comes from the spirit of wisdom and revelation that allows us to see as the Father sees? Add to that the breadth, length, depth, and height of His love which passes knowledge that we might walk in the fulness of that love. Wisdom, revelation, and love are our biggest needs.

When this work is truly done in us, our Christian walk is no longer mechanical, but it flows from within our transformed hearts. To be rooted and grounded in Christ’s love means we receive our own nourishment from it, just as a tree receives nourishment from being rooted and grounded in rich soil. When we are nourished by Christ’s love we are satisfied. It’s nutrients feed us and fuel us constantly.

Jesus was nourished and fueled daily by the Father’s love. He lived and ministered from this position.

“For the Father loves the Son…” (Jn. 3:35, 5:20).

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you…” (Jn. 15:9).

The only way we can love others is to first know how loved we are by God.

“We love Him because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19).

Love is the fuel and the oxygen of life in God. We will have less and less of a need to receive the love and approval of others when we are nourished by the Father’s love. If you are not receiving His love, you will find it difficult to release His love. It’s that simple.

Before God is the Creator or the Almighty Ruler, He is Father. It’s when we see that, even in creating and ruling, He does so as a kind and loving Father, that we are moved to such joy and delight at the thought of being His children. The God who is love (1Jn.4:8) is a Father who sent  His Son, so we could all, in turn, be sons. To be the Father means to love, it means to give life, it means to beget the Son, and to share His Son and now His Spirit with us all. In eternity past, before anything else was, God was loving, giving life, and delighting in His Son. This is what filled the heart of Jesus and is the reason He delighted in doing the Father’s will.

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (Jn.4:34).

“I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Ps.40:8).

The Father’s love is always primary, but the Son reciprocates with that love that manifests in obedience.

The Father’s eternal love for the Son excites the Son’s responsive eternal love for the Father, and His eternal love flows freely to His disciples and now to His Church. By this, one may see how the Christian life is to be lived. Without this exchange and free flow of love, there is no joy and delight in the heart and in our service.

NOTE: Our books and articles are forerunners to the move of God and personal holiness. The fire of God and the fear of God is attached to them. By purchasing and circulating our books and articles please know that you are helping this ministry fulfill its mandate for restoration and revival.