More Than A Feeling

If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15

God’s word is a window into the very mind and heart of God. In fact, God magnifies His Word above His name (Ps 138:2). It is easy to allow the Word to take a backstage role in our lives. Why? It takes work and effort to search the scriptures and make them the centerpiece of our being. The Apostle John gives some insight into this thought:

And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. Revelation 10:9

On first inspection the word is sweet, enlightening and glorious. But upon digestion,  assimilation and prolonged residence in one’s life, it will be discomforting and contrary to the whims and the wild nature of the flesh. In short, the living Word of God does not always “feel good” in our lives.

Where are we going here? It is important to put feelings into their proper perspective.

Feelings are at best a catalyst for good, and at worst, ignorant and deceptive for the beginnings of error.

We live in a culture defined by the “touchy-feely”. Our society operates on-demand. Give it to me now. Not in 5 minutes, not in 5 seconds, put it in my hand or within my line of sight RIGHT NOW! Why? Because it feels good. And we like to “feel” good.

Unfortunately, this mindset has meandered and crept its way into our perceptions of love, specifically, God’s love. And this is our launching pad. God’s love has little to do with feelings. Let’s take a look into this.

God’s Love & God’s Word

According to the word of the Lord, God’s love IS ALWAYS in concert with obedience to God’s word. Sometimes love is convoluted with two feeling-based fruit of the Spirit; joy and peace. How does one know if they embrace joy or peace? You feel” it. How else can you define the presence of them? You feel and sense peace and you feel and sense joy.

But, God’s love, the Greek word ‘agape’, is not about feelings.

Agape love is more about actions and reactions to life than it’s about feelings in life. The Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth devoted exclusively to love (agape) pinpoints this assertion:

Longsuffering, kindness, envy-less, selflessness, modest (vs. 4), gracious, humble, even tempered, innocent thinking (vs. 5), non-judgmental & God-seeking (vs. 6), trustworthy, faith-driven, confident, determined (vs. 7). I Corinthians Chapter 13

Where do you find feelings in this list of love characteristics? These spiritual graces are not produced by feelings. They come through persistent obedience and leading by God’s truth (Word) and Spirit. Jesus has much to say on this:

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. John 14:21

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings … John 14:23-24

The New Testament scriptures (KJV) translates the Greek word agapē (ἀγάπη)- sacrificial love, a love feast, as either the English words love or charity, 144x. Of those 144 scriptures, 53 verses include the word “faith” along with the word agapē. Faith cannot be separated from God’s love.

The world has perverted into a feeling what God originally intended to originate from faith. Belief in God’s Word:

Romans 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

And faith is energized or made effective by love; through the Word of God:

Galatians 5:6  For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Worketh: Greek ἐνεργέω (energeō) to be active, efficient: effectual, be mighty in. (Strongs)

“… but faith coming to effective expression through love”. (Wuest)

The analogy being: God-focused faith is the bullet, God’s love is the gunpowder.

The world’s formula for love is based on supply-demand marketing strategy. Love is projected as a fragile and fleeting consumable sustained with products and services.

This is not God’s design. Rather the truth is, God designed love to have its roots solely in Him, not as a consumable, but based on a condition. The condition being a heart in total and complete surrender in obedience to His word. What is the result? Knowing God for who He is. And who is He?

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. I John 4:7-8

God is love.

More Love, Less Control

The broadcast on the evening radio last week could not have been more timely. With these thoughts about love lingering and swirling around during the home commute, the preacher said:

The more in love you are with someone, the less control you have over your life“.

The minister went on to say he was just fine living the life of a bachelor. But, when this particular lady entered his life (now his wife), things began to change. He began to loose control over his life. To the point of total loss that he might gain faithful love.

More love, less control:

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:42-44

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:12-13

The more love, the less control.

God is love. It’s more than a feeling.

Be Blessed!

Poured Out

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And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. 1Sa 1:15

And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me. Job 30:16

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Miracles are relevant and only manifest themselves in the midst of impossible situations.

For Hannah it was the cry to heal a barren womb. For Job it was a plea for deliverance from the depths of extinction while facing harrowing circumstances. They both poured out their souls in response to the circumstances they found themselves in.

Have you or have you ever witnessed someone being “poured out” before God where nothing short of a miracle could rectify a situation? Has God ever come through for you at the last possible moment when it looked like an otherwise hopeless situation was about to implode?

Several years ago a family member was in a coma and on life support. The doctor inquired if the father and mother had the life insurance papers in order. It was that desperate of a situation. A request for prayer was made, and miraculously the next morning the daughter came out of the coma and made a full recovery.

Why? Because someone “poured out” their heart to God, God heard it and answered the prayer.

On another occasion, a lady lay in a bed at Johns Hopkins hospital with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Very little hope was given for recovery or any reason given to believe longevity was a liable consideration. Again, prayer was made in the name of Jesus and she miraculously left the hospital a short time later and lived many years cancer-free.

Why? Because someone “poured out” their heart to God and He answered the cry.

Being “poured out” gets God’s attention like nothing else will. It empties the soul of pretense, self-will and purges our spirit of doubt and unbelief with the urgency of desperation.

It is interesting to note that sometimes with God it is only when nothing is left that He can then start to do “something” within our emptiness.

With God it is always the lack that creates the greatest impact.

Broken Pieces

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalm 51:17

Jesus is interested in the broken pieces, things that appear to be nothing and of little significance in our estimation:

And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Joh 6:11-12

After the loves were broken, the pieces that remained mattered to Jesus. He did not want any of them to “be lost”. Why? Broken things, things that he makes, can be put back together and used again – like us.

When all we have to offer God is our brokenness, He in turn takes the pieces of our life and turns them into something he can use.

Such it is with what we pour out. God has a way of gathering the pieces we scatter over the ground of our lives and pick them back up to be used again in another application to fulfill His divine purposes.

The Power of Nothing

Recall the O.T. account of the widow at Zarephath who was down to her last meal. We know the story:

And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. 1Ki 17:12

The man of God asked her to give him the last meal and trust that God would honor the sacrifice. That is exactly what happened. She gave Elijah her last meal and from that time forward her barrel of meal and cruse of oil was never empty until the famine lifted. God continually supplied her need.

And in the N.T. we read about someone else who was left with nothing:

And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. Luk 16:20-21

Materialistically speaking, Lazarus had nothing. A high point of his day was when he found a chicken nugget-sized tidbit in the rich man’s trash can and not the typical meal fragments that were his usual treasure.

Yet, it was Lazarus’ “nothing” that was the difference between him going to heaven and the rich man’s “everything” that prevented him from everlasting life. The power of nothing.

A world renown string theorist and professor of physics at the University of Amsterdam, Erik Verlinde, has written a paper postulating that gravity, the fundamental force that permeates our universe, is not a tangible, identifiable  force. He states that “gravity doesn’t exist”. You read correctly, gravity is essentially …. nothing.

If man (i.e., mankind) would read the book written by the Master Architect he would have discovered that this mystery was recorded a long time ago in the Book of Job:

He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. Job 26:7

The power of nothing. When all we have is nothing, we may be in just the right place for God to start something miraculous in our lives.

If  God can hold the universe together with “nothing”, can you think of what He can do with your or my “nothing”? Is there anything too hard for the Lord to accomplish?

The Spirit is Poured Out

Lastly, Jesus emptied out his soul for one reason – to “pour out” his life’s energy back onto those who would believe on his word and call upon him:

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isa 53:12

And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 10:45

Let us remember the power of nothing when we have poured out our all to God and we have nothing left to give. And then allow the Lord to take our “nothing” so He can “pour out” on us “something” better in return.