Jesus did not invite people to pray a prayer, join a local church, and attend meetings (though connecting with other faith filled people is encouraged in Hebrews 10:25). He said, “Place your faith in me, deny yourself, and follow me.” To follow means to link hearts with Jesus and move in the direction Jesus is going.
It’s easy to be a fan of Jesus that gathers in buildings or stadiums to cheer for Him. It is quite another to yield our entire lives to God; to yield the time, the way we spend our time, resources, what we take into our eye gate, money, what we eat, and what we do with our bodies to God.
Over the years I have encountered numerous fans of Jesus, and fewer disciples of Jesus. Disciples are intimate with God. Disciples apply what they learn and see Jesus as King (Lord). He is not an add on in crisis, someone to turn to just to get needs met, someone to claim, but not do anything He says.
When we truly receive God’s love, and fall in love with Jesus, then the desires of His heart become the desires of our heart. Imagine being married and you mainly saw your spouse 1 or 2 times per week. Imagine only pursuing them in crisis. Imagine mainly talking to them to get your needs met. Imagine along with your spouse you have multiple other relationships that take priority. Imagine your spouse letting you know what they like and their desires, you in turn do nothing they desire unless it benefits you. I do not see that relationship thriving.
The covenant with God is supposed to be more important than a human spouse relationship. It is eternal, whereas an earthly covenant is temporary. God desires to lavish us with a love that is deeper and more profound than anything in this world. As we receive His incredible love, we are then able to pour that love back onto God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Is God first? Are we fans or followers? Following Jesus produces good fruit, purity, an aroma of heaven, Christ likeness, and joy. There is far more to gain than what is left behind. Denying our flesh does not feel good at first, yet once we link hearts with Jesus we begin to see the fullness of His beauty. We are transformed from the inside out by His great love.
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me,~Luke 9:23.
“What good does it do for you to say I am your Lord and Master if what I teach you is not put into practice? Let me describe the one who truly follows me and does what I say. He is like a man who chooses the right place to build a house and then lays a deep and secure foundation. When the storms and floods rage against that house, it continues to stand strong and unshaken through the tempest, for it has been wisely built on the right foundation. But the one who has heard my teaching and does not obey it is like a man who builds a house without laying any foundation whatsoever. When the storms and floods rage against that house, it will immediately collapse and become a total loss. Which of these two builders will you be?”~Luke 6:46-49 (TPT).
Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes,~Romans 12:1-2 (TPT).
God loves you! Blessing you and praying for you. Let’s seek the King (Jesus) in this season and every season.
It is quite easy to be critical and judge. It is so easy to throw stones at other people and not see the plank in our own eyes. Why? We see in part and know in part. We can think we know and know nothing. God does not simply see the behaviors of humanity; God sees why people do what they do.
How many of you have been harmed greatly by someone who seemed to not get what the problem is? How many of you have been harmed by a professing Christian? Ah, it stings a bit more when they claim to love Jesus and do not love others right? Yet there is a part of the puzzle God sees that we may not. God sees how much of His love they have actually received. We can only give away what we possess.
We tell people to love God and others. “Love God, love others, love yourself last.” This mantra has led to loads of dysfunctional and sometimes codependent relationships. “I will love myself last and God will be so proud.” Well, it sounds noble. The problem is that is it is not biblical.
The Bible says we love because God first loves us (1 John 4:19). The starting point is God. God is love (1 John 4:8).
God is the source of agape (unselfish, sacrificial, unwavering love). This love is the highest of all loves. It trumps eros (romantic/sexual), philia (brotherly love), and storage (family love). Jesus stated His disciples would be known by their agape love (John 13:34-35). This love is the 1 Corinthians 13 type of love.
The next step is receiving God’s love, then giving that love back to God and loving our neighbor AS we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). We will not be able to love God or our neighbor if we do not FIRST RECEIVE agape from God. “God here I am in need of your love, help me to receive the fullness of your love for me,” is a great starting prayer.
It is so vital that we learn how to receive love from God and believe God loves us.
Our thoughts matter! We will not out behave our thought life. Those who think they are the scum of the earth tend to treat others poorly. Those who have not fully accepted they are profoundly loved and accepted by God tend to struggle with loving God, themselves, and others. Your greatest adversary lacks God love. The person who mistreated or abused you lacked God love. The people who dishonored you, they lacked God love.
We cannot give away what we do not possess.
When we move beyond judging behavior to recognizing the root, compassion fills our heart. We move from being critical to praying the other person knows intimately the height, depth, width, and vast expanse of God’s love. We can only reveal to others the God we know. We can only honor others when we have experienced His honor and approval.
When people ask “How could you sit with the homeless, they are so dirty and gross?” I think, “How could I not? I see someone God created with great love. Under all the dirt, is a treasure.” I can honor what society calls, “The least of them,” because I know how much God loves me. If I were dirty and on the streets, I would anticipate God sending someone to love me. I am greatly loved, so are they, and so are you.
Jesus was able to move in high levels of compassion because He was one with the Father. He was not led by His flesh. Jesus knew how greatly He was loved, therefore He could take the lowest place. He could honor the least, last, lost, sinners, and lepers of society because He knew His worth. Those who do not know their own worth or value will not be able to see yours or anyone else’s.
One of the greatest revelations I had from God regarding people was during a season I was being grossly mistreated by Christians. God spoke to my heart, “People will not treat you any better than they treat me. People can not give you what they do not possess.” I recognized in that moment people say they love God, yet if you observe them, some do not honor, cherish, respect, obey, listen to God, etc… For some people, God is their sugar daddy or fire insurance. Loving God to gain something from Him is not loving God.
You can tell quite a bit about how a person feels about themselves by how they treat other people.
You can also gain insight into how people will treat you if you look at how they treat God. If God is only pursued to gain something, that is how they will treat you.
I am learning not to take things personally. How people behave, myself included, is a reflection of the inner condition. Those who know they are loved, love well. Those who try to “fake it til they make it,” tend to hurt tons of people because their love is shallow or deficient.
Before we throw stones, get offended, or hurt by people, pause. Press pause and ask God for His view point of the person, situation, and what is not as visibly seen.
I had a friend chat with me about missing friend gatherings. More than my introversion, there is normally a reason aligned with everything I say no to. Instead of taking on offense, he asked me about it and we talked. His heart grew with compassion.
The evil one will tell you to judge, jump to conclusions, criticize people, be nasty, look for all the things the other person is doing that could be wrong. Love moves us deeper into compassion. Maybe, most likely, there is something more going on than meets the eye.
May you and I sink deeper into compassion. It is a fruit of God’s love.
“…when he (Jesus) saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd,”-Matthew 9:36.
I hope to release book 4, Killing Insecurity, either later this year or 2021! I hope it leads many into freedom. God longs to see us live bold, confident, and FREE!!
P.S You can support our mission to love the homeless, poor, and victims of human trafficking by supporting our new merch store. Go to empoweredandfreemerch.com.
The dying AIDS patient who deepened my awareness of God’s love…
I have this thing with Jesus where if He asks me to do something, my heart melts under the weight of His love. I find Him mostly irresistible. Often He calls me to do things my base personality probably would not run towards. Like the day I met John (not his real name). John was covered in sores (scabbed over), dying, and sad. I stopped for John and tears filled his eyes as he told me there was no hope for him. The way he lived, the diagnosis, no hope. I felt led to pull John into my arms and hug him. Tears flowed freely from his eyes.
Could I be contaminated by John, sores covering his body, tears and saliva flowing? It did not matter in that moment. What mattered was John feeling the deep embrace of God. “John God sees you and loves you. Your life matters greatly to God. John there is always hope with Jesus.”
That day with John wrecked me. Who wanted to touch John? Most people avoided eye contact with Him. God wanted to touch John. There is no fear in love. I have attempted to love many people in my lifetime who could not see God’s love or responded poorly to love. Yet love (God) keeps calling me to love.
So my encouragement is abide in the one who is love, Jesus. When you do, love will FLOW out of you in abounding ways. No striving, abide in Him (cultivate intimacy with God). It won’t matter if you are highly introverted, or not into loving strangers. He will love through YOU! God is simply looking to love the world and it starts with me and you!
My prayer is our hearts receive more of God’s love and we give it away! The world needs love, love, love!!!
I want to be sensitive, loving, and appropriate with this post. Jesus did what He saw the Father doing and said what He heard Him speaking. Jesus operated in this holy and intimate connection with the Father. He listened intently to the agenda of heaven. Jesus did not pray for every sick person He saw, nor raise every single dead person. Those who came to Him He healed. He did not stop for every sick person He saw. Jesus listened to the agenda of heaven and followed suit.
I know of people raised from the dead. God has saved my life 7 times over from nearly dying. In each case, there was a purpose and reason. That person’s assignment was incomplete and/or someone came into alignment with heaven to see the fulfillment of their destiny. Only God knows the assignment and destiny of a person. It is not dependent on age. Some do not cry nor contend if an 80 year old person dies. Yet if their destiny in God was not fulfilled, it’s still worth mourning. An 8 year old may seem like they have not fulfilled their calling. However, only God knows why each of us are here.
It is tragic and awful when death occurs. It’s painful. When we know God can do something, it can tug at the desire for the miraculous inside of us to see Heaven invade the earth. It can be tempting to believe if we just sing louder, pray harder, believe bigger that we are somehow going to be The Avengers who snap our fingers and magically reverse death. I have seen God do incredible things. I have also seen children and older people who loved God slip right on into eternity. I love what Kathryn Kuhlman said, “It is my job to pray, God’s job to heal.”
I prayed for a man on death’s door that had thousands of people praying for him. He died. This was devastating for people. I saw light leave his body and return to God. I heard a still small voice saying, “His assignment is done. Well done my good and faithful servant.” When people were talking about calling him back, I could not link to their prayers. They were praying their will be done, not the best for the man. He was martyred for the Gospel and will receive incredible eternal rewards. While his death was tragic to us. Heaven saw someone willing to risk it all for Jesus entering into rest.
I was battling with God over someone I loved with my life who died. I loved this person with my life. This person loved, loved, loved Jesus. Lived a holy life. She died. We prayed for life. She slipped out of our arms and right into the arms of Jesus. If God can raise the dead, why didn’t He do it this time?! I talked to my best friend Jesus after grieving for awhile. I am sharing this with you to hopefully bring hope and perspective, not pain. Adding in what He spoke this morning. Certainly weigh it, test it, pray over it.
“I hate the pain that death causes. I wept over the pain of the death of Lazarus. Lazarus was my friend. I knew he would be raised, yet his death brought pain to so many. Some think the Father is the orchestrator of their pain and it is untrue. Some blame. Some grow angry. Some disappointed. They do not understand that before sin entered the world, death and sickness were not a reality.
Mankind chose sin, sin brings pain. It impacts those who love me and those who hate me. You live in a sin filled world, yet I have overcome the world. Even those who love me and abide in me will face challenges on your side of eternity. Have hope that what you live now is not the full story. Eternity awaits and there is no death in Paradise.
I love faith. I love when the children of God lift their eyes to the promises of God and believe. I love the boldness to declare with unwavering faith what has been spoken from the Father’s heart in scripture. I also desire for closeness and pursuit of heaven’s vantage point. There are things at work that humans do not always see nor understand. They think, ‘How could a loving God allow this?,’ instead of asking, ‘How can I grow to know God through this?’
We are not causing tragedy to build intimacy. We do not prevent all bad things from happening. It requires a different perspective to see as we see. We move intently into the middle of grief. I am close to the broken hearted and save those crushed in spirit. I hold the hurting in my arms and love them to life.
Some do not realize to every life there is an assignment and many fulfill it and come home. The timing is not what others desire for it is in the human heart to live for eternity. Those who are united with me will live forever, simply not in your realm. The conditions are far more pleasant where there is no sin, no sickness, no death.
Some desire to come home and I will not violate their will. They may never tell their loved ones, yet they get a glimpse of where they will be, who I am, and never want to go back. I care for each person’s wishes as well as completing the will of the Father.
In the moments where you do not understand, sink into my heart. Inquire and listen. Heaven has a different viewpoint than the sons and daughters of Adam.”
I believe in praying bold, faith filled prayers. I also believe in asking God, “What are you doing in this situation and how should I pray?” When my friend was sick and we had been praying for weeks for a miracle, I finally stopped praying our will be done and started praying, “God what is heaven’s best in this situation? I want that.”
Sure we want people to live forever on earth, yet the reality is sin created an environment where we will all leave earth. Some will be gathered into the eternal arms of God. Some will slip into a godless realm. Either way, earth is the shortest time we will live.
Should we pray for the sick and expect healing. I think so. Should we leave the results in God’s hands, yes! We cannot heal or raise anyone from the dead. It’s only by God’s power. Do we believe for what looks impossible? Heck yeah! Do we also recognize we do not command the Universe, God does? Yes.
I don’t always get it. I do know God is good. I do know the wisdom of God is FAR beyond our wisdom.
Have you ever tried to love someone with God love and they either misconstrued it as eros (romantic love), rejected the love, misunderstood the love, did not believe you loved them, tried to use you, or trampled it under foot? I have. It used to bother me greatly, I confess. Then God allowed me to see Jesus loved everyone perfectly, yet some still could accept His love, receive His love, understand Him, nor reciprocate His love.
Jesus, the love of God through Him, was foreign to the religious. His love was not recognized, God was not recognized, He was neither believed nor accepted. The love of God is so lavish, so selfless, and so pure.
The world without knowledge of God cannot recognize what it has no grid for. Love in our culture is often lust (based on selfish gain, fleshly passions, self gratification). It is not holy, pure, nor does it sacrifice anything for another unless there is hopes to gain something.
When you love people without knowing them, it can scare them. If you are too lavish, some think you have ulterior motives. Why? Because our world system is upside down to God’s system. God loves us first and sacrificially. God is not selfish. My point is, and I have to say this to myself, love is not wasted. It may feel that way, yet if it’s for God it’s not.
I served a homeless guy for a bit who ended up off the street and with a job. He rejoiced and thought I was amazing while he was being blessed. Years later I saw him drunk and back on the streets. He cursed me and shooed me away. Did I waste my time for that year I served him and helped him? That hot summer day he cursed me in broad daylight it felt that way. Yet the truth is, Jesus was glorified that year. That man cannot stand before God and say no one ever showed me your love. And guess what, I still keep showing up on the streets.
Whether people clap, boo, talk about me, slander my name, wrongly judge my intentions, trample love underfoot, I keep waking up to love the world. Yes, use wisdom and set boundaries. But don’t let people not full of God’s love destroy your desire to love. Those who do not love, do not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:8).
My encouragement is ask for wisdom and keep your love on for Jesus. Sometimes the prayer is, “God help me to love!”
I love Jesus. I hope to follow Him all the days of my life, even if it cost me my life.
Following Jesus has cost me “friendships” and invited persecution. Most of the persecution coming from people who claim to know Him. They have called me names (heretic, demonized, weird, another colorful b-word), slandered my name, a few threatened violence, I was struck once by a woman who called me a liar and I was not lying (she claimed to be a Spirit-filled Christian. I refused to hit her back out of love and she was far older than me/over twice my age), cursed my ministry, cursed me, cussed me out, boycotted things I was doing for Jesus, cursed me from pulpits, mocked me, tried to shame me, publically set me up to be humiliated, talked badly about me, stopped talking to me if I disagreed with their understanding of scripture, tried to turn entire groups against me, posted hateful or disrespectful comments on my blogs or social media, tried to debate me for hours and talked down to me like I was stupid, written me nasty notes, called me a bad Christian and untrustworthy, called my ministry for God illegitimate, etc…all in the name of Jesus.
I don’t know the Jesus who acts like that. Jesus said you will know my true disciples by their agape (sacrificial, unselfish) love. Jesus also stated you would know a tree by its fruit. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentlenesses, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law (Gal 5:22-23). Love fulfills the law because it does no harm to its neighbor (Romans 13:10).
Why share these things, and I promise I am not complaining? Because if our picture of Jesus is violent, hateful, nasty, rude, unkind, mean spirited, argumentative, proud, hostile, etc…it’s not Jesus of Nazareth. The spirits behind the behaviors in paragraph one are demons. Mockery is a demon. An accusatory spirit is a demon. Pride is a demon. These are the chief characteristics of Satan. It’s easy to build an image of God that is not God at all. Cursing people is the language of demons. Slander and gossip, are demons.
God invites us to know Him, who He really is. Even in my highest levels of ignorance or rebellion God never responded to me in a hateful way. Never. The conviction of God never pushed my face in the dirt and stepped on my neck. The Pharisees partnered with the devil and wanted to stone people for not following their understanding of the law. Jesus did not.
If you feel compelled to violence or mean-spiritedness against people, that is not the Holy Spirit. If you feel compelled to send nasty notes, leave rude and hateful comments, that is not the Holy Spirit. If you feel led to mock people and curse their ministry, that is not the Holy Spirit. A genuine Spirit of God will go gently and speak privately with someone in great love. The Bible tells us to go first privately and to make sure we don’t have a plank in our eye. See Galatians 6:1, Matthew 7:4-5, 1 Timothy 5:1-2, Matthew 18:15-17. If you behave in these ways, I encourage repentance.
I truly believe once we (collectively who claim Jesus) get the love thing right, everything else will fall into place. I am not bitter over the behavior of other people. I forgive them, pray, and move forward. I am deeply saddened by the misrepresentation of Jesus. Why? The world is watching those who claim Jesus to find out who God is. If our actions do not align with the heart of God, why on earth would anyone want to know Jesus? The devil never tells people how their actions will impact others. He pushes humanity to pride.
My prayer is we choose the way of Jesus. I am still being refined and having my heart tended by God. I am still learning from Jesus. I am still yielding myself to God. My hopes are no one will be able to say I brutalized them in the name of Jesus or made a mockery of who He is. Why? I love Jesus. How I behave is a reflection of our intimacy.
My greatest prayer this morning is for those who claim Jesus to truly know Him. Jesus said if we abide in Him, we will bear good fruit (John 15:4-5).
I do not desire to worship a Jesus made in mankind’s image. I want Jesus of Nazareth, the humble king who washed feet and chose nails even for His enemies. My urgent plea is seek to know the real Jesus. The Holy Spirit promises to be our teacher and guide. If we ask God, He will reveal Himself to us.
Before I went to sleep last night I deleted a nasty comment off my author page. I wrote about women in ministry which created a firestorm. The defenders of their version of the law came out with Bibles raised to beat me with their level of understanding. What they do not realize is I spent years studying the Bible. I read through it almost every year, and I am not ignorant. I have been pursuing knowing Jesus for most of my life. I do not speak about things I do not study with God. I bless them, forgive them, delete their hatefulness, pray for them, and move along.
If you have been beaten up by professing Christians, I am sorry. Jesus is sorry. God is not mean nor cruel. God loves you! God is patient and kind. God is good and merciful. God is not hateful. God is love. I wrote my third book Overcoming Church Hurt & Abuse this year because we have way too many Christians in bad shape because of the treatment and abuse of other Christians. If you are hurting, grab it. It has 5 star reviews and has helped numerous people step out of pain and into healing. You can grab off Amazon.com or Empowered-Free.com/shop.
I hope something written here blesses you! Praying for you, me, the global church. Let’s choose love!