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!

Four P’s of The Seed

Now the parable is this: The seed  
is the word of God.  Luke 8:11seed1
 
The parable of the sower is perhaps the hallmark of all parables Jesus ever communicated. In fact, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus has this to say about this parable in particular:
 
And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?  Mark 4:13
 
In other words what Jesus is saying is  if you are to “get it right” concerning my word  and the way into the kingdom of God, this is the one you might want to get down and master. 
 
Why? Because it pertains to the most important aspect of one’s walk of faith – the word of God.
 
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God“.
 
Let’s dive a little deeper into this.
 
Protection – (The Unprotected Heart)
 
A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
 

Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.  Luke 8:5, 12

 The seed was devoured and snatched away. Why? Because the seed was left unprotected. Unprotected because it was not committed to heart and mind.
 
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalms 119:11
 
The word ‘hid’ in this verse is the Hebrew word ‘tsâphan‘. The word is translated into English to mean ‘to hoard, reserve or to protect‘.
 

Something is stolen because the thief was undetected and the goods were unprotected. The word of God must be PROTECTED in our hearts.

Penetration – (The Uncommitted Heart)

 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
 

They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
Luke 8:6, 13

 The seed failed because it never developed a root system: “these have no root”. The heart in this case was indifferent and uncommitted to the nurturing and care of the word of God.
 
Commitment is a hard phase to conquer in this journey. It takes a toll. It will be discomforting. It will demand something from us. It takes much effort to till and nurture the soil (heart) to accommodate conditions for seed growth.
 
Jesus said the other calamity befalling this seed was that it “lacked moisture“.
 
Roots have an inherent quality to seek out water sources. The root system failed to developed because it never reached an adequate water source (God’s spirit).
 
Roots will burrow through underground terra-cotta pipes and concrete to reach a source of light or water.
 
As the song of old sings:
 
I shall not be, I shall not be moved.
Just like a tree that is planted by the waters,
I shall not be moved.
 
We must allow our spiritual root system to be constantly refreshed by fresh influxes of God’s cool springs of living water. How? Through prayer, fasting , study of the word of God and worship.
 

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

 Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. Psalms 1:3, 93:13
 
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
 
For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.  Jeremiah 17:7-8
 

Perfection – (The Undisciplined Heart)

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.  Luke 8:7, 14
 
Luke’s use of the word perfection (telesphoreō) is a compound of two Greek words –

telos and pherō̄.

Telos is translated to mean: ‘ the conclusion of an act or state, termination’.

Pherō̄ translated into English means: ‘to bear, carry or bring’.

Thus, the word perfection essentially means to bring or carry something to an act or state of conclusion – maturity.

Unripened fruit is of little value and certainly not desirable to eat. It is only when fruit is ripe that its true identity and distinctive nature (sweetness) is revealed.
 
Ripening is the final stage of fruit development. It is a lack of discipline at this stage that causes the seed to wither and die. Life, problems, sin, perplexities of the  mind and worldly cares all get in the way and snuff out any hope for the tender, vulnerable little seed to reach perfection.
 
O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Psalms 34:8
 

The seed must be allowed to mature and ripen in our lives and to really “taste” the sweetness and goodness in living for God.

 
Discipline will bring the seed to full maturity, to a place of perfection where it becomes apparent that living for God is not a bitter taste of ‘drudgery‘, but a sweet one of ‘discovery‘.
 

Patience – (The Uncompromising Heart)

And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
 
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. Luke 8:8,15
 
The word of God has much to say on the subject of patience. Here are some “good” ones:
 
In your patience possess ye your souls. Luke 21:19
 
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:4
 
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. James 5:7
 
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God (word/seed) and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12
 
It’s one thing to start a great work for God. It is entirely another thing to sustain it and see it come to fruition. Mature fruit produces satisfaction in the one partaking it.

And it yields a seed or seeds for future growth and further production.

The mature fruit is able to reproduced itself and sustains the perpetuation of more growth (more seeds, more fruit, more growth).

 

In conclusion, Jesus illustrates in this parable the possible dimensions a human heart can experience as it reacts to the word of God (seed).

Note that in each ground type illustrated (the way side, shallow, thorns and good) the seed progressively increases both in depth and maturity. Ultimately, it is the condition of the soil (heart) that governs the seed’s ability to bear fruit.

Four P’s of the Seed – Protection  (Unprotected Heart), Penetration (Uncommitted Heart), Perfection (Undisciplined Heart) and Patience (Uncompromising Heart).

 “Jesus, help us to keep our hearts tender to the presence of your spirit so that we will allow your word to come to the place of perfection and maturity in our lives. Amen.”