Monday, January 28, 2008

More on Love as the Defining Factor

The intense love that He died to give you & I is so liberating! This is the defining factor in our relationship with the Lord, and, as I said in the prior post, with others within His family.

It seems the yearning in my heart these days is not because I am unsettled, but the opposite: it's because He has continued to settle me. One with Him. One in heart, purpose. He is the One who has been defining and redefining this immense love in my heart. I can't say how it has happened, I can't say how it has been directed; it seems to be beyond words to express the joy of His Love, and the freedom of His love. To know, without hesitation, His value, His worth, His love, as completely settled and expressed in one's heart. Though it feels at times beyond words to express, it's there, and more real than anything! Shaping not only our hearts, but in careful confident expression to others.

A love that has been defined carefully by our Saviour, can't help but weave it's way softly and carefully into the hearts of others within His family. Love has a way of expressing itself. Yet it has less to do with us, and more to do with the Saviour, giving and loving in us and expressing to others the same freeing love and care. It's like a circle. We are beholding our Jesus and sharing love on a level that He has made possible and that He is sustaining.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Missing Link ... ?

Being born again means a huge family change! Being born again just can't be viewed in any other way. It's a drastic family change. A radical shift that becomes apparent not only in how we view others within this family, but also in the quality of life each family member is experiencing within this family.

Love is the defining factor in our birth and relationship within this new family. When love is the one and only defining factor, the result is ultimately a weaving of our lives together, deeply into other people's lives. This weaving is out of genuine love and concern. This type of family interacts genuinely and therefore loves deeply every day of the week, (definitely not out of religious obligation). {Certainly it does not interact just a few times a week at some neat "services". If we would be honest, this interaction is really basically for self: so that we can feel better firstly about ourselves, then possibly secondly about others} That whole analogy that we read where Jesus talks of this concept of losing our lives for others ... we hear this over and over in the Bible, but in truth, this is something that can only begin to happen when we understand this idea of family in His Kingdom. Love in His family is love that is for the sake of others vs the retaining and reassurance of self. It is a huge shift.

This is God's heart, that we would become fully birthed into His family, out of deep love for others. It's all about family. There is alot said in the Bible about Jesus building His church. The heart of God for church is that it not be built upon who believes the right thing, who tithes the right thing, who attends the right thing, who goes to the right denomination, or who and where the spiritual people are, or who it is that says they are the ones who have had some deep religious experiences. Jesus said the church, ie this, His family, would be built upon those who have melted their lives together, and given their lives away, for one reason and one reason only - because they themselves have heard His voice, and it has melted and blended their lives together as One, as family. This becomes a reflection of the deep transformation into the Son of God - this knitting together as a family. It's not about ministry. It's about love, it's about family ...

It's a supernatural connection that is not built on flesh, ie it's not built upon man's desires, or his wills, efforts, or man's doctrinal interpretations. Life is simply built around who He is, and around what He has done, .. it's then from this perspective, that we can begin to understand who is Jesus' mother, who are His sisters, and who are His brothers.

Right doctrines, good deeds, and/or being able to articulate and interpret religious truths, such as how and when we should "do Church". These things are meaningless in any one and all of us, if we don't understand the simple truth of truly being birthed into His family and love within His family. We let our lives reflect this love for His family, 24/7.

Oftentimes, I see this as the vital, yet sadly missing link.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Gracious people .... (you will only meet a few in life)

Proverbs 22:11

He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.

Precious wisdom! A man with a pure heart has gracious speech, so that great men choose him as their friend. It begins with a pure heart - one free from all bitterness, envy, guile, hypocrisy, malice, pride, or selfishness. Such hearts use gracious words - acceptable, agreeable, courteous, forgiving, gentle, kind, merciful, and pleasing words. The combination is so delightful and rare that noble men are instantly and deeply drawn to it.

Graciousness is the most beautifying character trait. A gracious person is often described as a beautiful or charming person. Whether man or woman, graciousness makes a person delightful, pleasant, and winning. It is a rare and sweet pleasure to meet one. And this trait is most clearly shown by excellent speech. You will meet only a few in life; they will have great reputations; they will warm your soul; and you will crave their company.

Consider that Solomon, a king, admitted weakness for gracious men! He had heard about the friendship between his father David and Prince Jonathan, where David's gracious speech had won Jonathan in a few moments (I Sam 17:57 - 18:4). Though David was a lowly shepherd and yet a threat to his future reign, Jonathan loved him as his own soul! Why? Because David's heart was free from any ambition, guile, pride, or selfishness!

So he taught graciousness. He said a gracious woman is always revered (11:16). If a woman has few friends and is disliked, she needs graciousness. It is her odiousness - the opposite of graciousness - that turns others away (30:23). A virtuous woman speaks very cautiously and discreetly, and then only with kindness (31:26). She only says acceptable things, and she only says them at acceptable times. The meek and quiet spirit of desirable women, which God and men admire, is a large part of graciousness (I Pet 3:3-4).

An unwanted woman must examine herself through the ears of others. The best things she can do are to reject all critical and negative thoughts and cut her words in half. A beautiful woman without the gracious discretion to know what to say and when to say it is like a jewel of gold in a pig's nose (11:22)! Her words and manners keep reminding you of the hairy pig wearing the little piece of gold! When an average or ugly woman does not have gracious discretion, words fail to describe the horror of this creature!

He also taught that wise men speak graciously, but fools destroy themselves with their words (Ec 10:12). While he attached the critical adjective "odious" to women, he attached "froward" to men. A froward man is difficult, harsh, obnoxious, perverse, and unreasonable; he is the opposite of gracious. Kings delight in righteous speech (16:13), for they want counselors and ambassadors that advise and represent them well. Solomon highly praised pleasant words (10:20,32; 12:18; 15:23; 16:21,24; 24:26; 25:11).

Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of graciousness. David prophesied of His gracious lips (Ps 45:2). When He first spoke in His hometown of Nazareth, the skeptics were amazed at his gracious speech (Luke 4:22). Even his enemies had to admit that no man had ever spoken like Him (John 7:46). Scripture is full of His gracious words, coming from the purest heart (John 4:6-30; 8:10-11; 9:37; 11:25-26; 18:1-26; 20:16; 21:1-14).

Graciousness begins with a pure heart. Bitterness, envy, or strife in the heart is from hell, and leads to all sort of confusion and evil (Jas 3:14-16). A man's speech simply reflects his heart (Luke 6:45), so you must keep your heart with all diligence (4:23). If your heart is cheerful, contented, forgiving, kind, and thankful, you will think gracious thoughts. You must reject all sinful thoughts of bitterness, envy, evil surmising, malice, or revenge.

A pure heart produces gracious speech. Paul said, "Let your speech be alway with grace" (Col 4:6). He told the Ephesians to avoid all corrupt speech and focus on words that build others up; he said that a tenderhearted spirit based in kindness and forgiveness was right, but that bitterness, wrath, malice, and evil speaking were wrong (Eph 4:29-32). If you think kindly about others, rule your spirit, and guard your tongue, you will be gracious!

Reader, lay hold of wisdom! This proverb is pure gold! If you seek to grow in favor with God and men, there is no better way than graciousness. By starting with your heart and thoughts about others, you will have the internal fountain for gracious words. The perfect place to practice is at home with spouse, parents, children, or siblings, where you are generally the least gracious. With the blessing of God, the king will soon be your friend!

What else can you do? Listen more; talk less (17:27). Promote others (Phil 2:3-4). Learn to live charity (I Cor 13:4-7). Avoid folly (Eccl 10:1). Hate jesting (Eph 5:4). Be cheerful (15:13,15). Be content (Heb 13:5-6). Exalt mercy (Jas 2:13). Develop pitiful compassion (I Pet 3:8). Eliminate moodiness (16:32). Overlook others' faults (19:11). Make peace (Jas 3:17-18). Only say what is acceptable to others (10:32). Praise others (12:25). Hate the limelight (Num 12:3). Despise envy (14:30). Don't be a busybody (I Pet 4:15).

And pray for it! David had a pure heart, because he asked the Lord to search and perfect his heart (Ps 139:23-24). Pray for a greater measure of the Spirit of God in your life, so that you will bear the gracious fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Any man or woman bearing love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance will be gracious! He will be incredibly gracious! She will be a new creature!

Forget what you think about yourself! Graciousness is what others feel about you - God and good men. Most odious people think themselves gracious, and most gracious people think themselves odious! It is this arrogance of spirit or humility of spirit that makes a person either odious or gracious! Humble yourself before God's word! Reject your pride! Others certainly don't miss your abrasive and irritating words and manners. If you have few friends, especially noble men, craving your presence, you are likely odious!

Parents, teach your children graciousness! Instead of wasting your life and their mind with the profitless drivel of today's profane education model, work on this great character trait that pleases God and men. It will do more for their future success than memorizing the periodic table of elements! Can you define graciousness? Can they define it? Can you illustrate it daily in their sibling relationships? Can you apply it to the various situations with people we encounter everyday? Study the word! Meditate on it! Live it! Require it!

If Christians were more gracious in their speech, others would be attracted to their religion. Since the Founder and Teacher of Christianity, the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, had a perfectly pure heart and totally gracious speech, it is a disgraceful shame when His so-called followers have neither! Honor your Saviour and defend His religion by a pure heart and gracious words!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Being Alone with God (or dumbfounded as Oswald says)

January 13th.


"When He was alone the twelve . . . asked of Him . . ." Mark 4:10

His Solitude with Us. When God gets us alone by affliction, heartbreak, or temptation, by disappointment, sickness, or by thwarted affection, by a broken friendship, or by a new friendship - when He gets us absolutely alone, and we are dumbfounded, and cannot ask one question, then He begins to expound. Watch Jesus Christ's training of the twelve. It was the disciples, not the crowd outside, who were perplexed. They constantly asked Him questions, and He constantly expounded things to them; but they only understood after they had received the Holy Spirit (see John 14:26). (To me this is the exact true nature of following Christ, having a relationship with Him where we are not content to be a follower amongst the many, but a fellow traveller with Him, Him who desires to find all those hidden truths that He hungers to give us. Hidden knowledge of Him that He longs to over and over again lay it upon our heart and oh for joy it is that we can have this relationship with Him; where we can go to Him with all that we don't understand - just like the disciples did, I think that is His goal, for us to come alongside Him to seek out the meaning of so many things ... maybe that is why some things are hidden, so we will seek Him out with all of our heart soul mind strength . What a delight to find Him in all His fullness, how overwhelming is that )

If you are going on with God, the only thing that is clear to you, and the only thing God intends to be clear, is the way He deals with your own soul. *He is love to me and He is so perfect in all that He does, this is the one truth we can hold to * Your brother's sorrows and perplexities are an absolute confusion to you. We imagine we understand where the other person is, until God gives us a dose of the plague of our own hearts.(ooh so true help me here Lord) There are whole tracts of stubbornness and ignorance to be revealed by the Holy Spirit in each one of us, and it can only be done when Jesus gets us alone. (I so want to be alone with Him, do you ?)Are we alone with Him now, or are we taken up with little fussy notions, fussy comradeships in God's service, fussy ideas about our bodies? Jesus can expound nothing until we get through all the noisy questions of the head and are alone with Him. (yes and get rid of all the voices of distractions constantly bombarding us to drive us away from HIM)