Love – God’s Greatest Weakness?

For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. 2 Corinthians 13:4

Weakness – dfn. lack of physical strength; lack of power, influence or strength of character; a weak point in a system or somebody’s character. (Source: Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

Can God be weak? Is it possible for the great God of glory to exhibit any weaknesses? Or can God “choose” to be weak to achieve a much greater purpose and cause? One thing is certain and one thing we all agree upon is that love is weak. Love does not operate from a position of power or strength. Love assumes the position of weakness, giving instead of taking and being the recipient of pain versus the one causing the pain, And the list goes on. That stated, how do we respond when the Bible says that “God is love” (I Jn 4:8,16). If God is love and love is weak then what does this say about God’s person, nature, being and character?

As we probe this a little further we will find out that God does and always has a plan. And His plans are perfect. And His plans have always centered around one goal and purpose – to show all of creation how magnificent, how wonderful and how glorious He really is (Ps 145:10-11, Is 6:3, Col 1:16, Rev 4:11). And we will discover that this whole subject of weakness has an astounding ending. Let’s dive into this a little.

 The Progressive Works of God

In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth in a miraculous display of creative power. We know that, but what we sometimes forget or do not think about is that these acts of creative power were not conclusive.  After each day of creation God said that “it was good” six times (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21 & 25). The number ‘six’ is the number of man, the number of incompletion. This tells us something. It tells us that God had something else planned that would supersede His “good”. What is that? The answer is: God’s ‘best’. God said that His acts of creation were good. What God did not say was that He was “finished” with His work of creation. It would take 6,000 years before He would say that his work of creation on earth was “finished”.

God’s way of revealing His character and will through HIs sovereign acts and ways is progressive in nature (Is 28:10, 13). His plans unfold the way photographs were originally made. Photographs used to be formed after light-sensitive photographic paper was immersed a chemical bath called a “developing solution” after being exposed to a light source projected through a film negative. Images would slowly emerge over the paper’s surface while the solution swished over its surface until the entire scene photographed appeared. Such is the revelation of God, a step-by-step progression of events unfolding to culminate into the complete understanding and knowledge of all that God is.

Progressive Steps – A Man, A Family, A Nation & A World

God’s first step in revealing His character and nature started with a single man, Adam. Adam, the first created being made in God’s image was his first choice to begin exposing who He was through communication and fellowship. Adam failed in fulfilling all that God planed for him because of disobedience. So, as God always does, He moved on. God then chose a family to work with and continue to unfold his perfect plan and will. The man was Noah and he found grace in the sight of God (Gen 6:8). The Lord worked through Noah and his family to preserve a remnant of mankind from judgment (the flood) looming over earth’s inhabitants. After Noah and his offspring fulfilled their God-given role He moved on to something bigger – a nation.

The Lord chose the people of the nation of Israel (through the faith of Abraham) as the next step to reveal His will. The Lord started what would be a journey of almost 2,000 yeas to prepare a people who would glorify Him and be a witness of his power, mercy, goodness and grace to a darkened world. Again, the plan fell short of its intended expectations. Israel would eventually become divisive, indifferent to the ways of God and fall into relative oblivion amongst the nations of the earth.

After failing to achieve perfection yet again, God in his last and final attempt to fulfill His perfect plan decided to take matters into his own hands. This final plan would supersede all others in scope and power and go beyond the limitations of human futility, family frailty and national hostility. God’s final and perfect plan would encompass the entire world and involve all of Heaven, including Himself!

But God faced a dilemma. Because of the nature of this final plan Heaven could not be its launching pad or its  operations center. Why? Because this plan demanded a part of God that He had up to this point not revealed. This final plan demanded God’s total and complete commitment of His love and forgiveness only attainable through profound weakness. And He was up to the challenge.

Earth – The Manifestation of God’s Greatest Weakness, The Perfection of God’s Magnificent Power

Heaven is a place of eternity and timelessness where demonstrations and exhibitions of God’s glory, might and power are in full display. Heaven is not a place for weakness. When God determined it was time to manifest and reveal the most glorious aspects of His character, nature and being He would have to do it at some other place and in some other form. And He did. It is the place we know as planet Earth. God designed earth for two  purposes; to heal the breach of sin in Heaven (Lucifer’s rebellion) and on earth (Adam’s fall/man’s sin) and to reveal to all of Creation the glory of of His character and manifestation of His greatness weakness – His love. To gather together IN ONE “all things in Christ” (Eph 1:10).

He began the process on earth as a child in the “likeness of sinful (weak) flesh”:

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Luke 1:30-33

God himself stepped beyond the curtain of Heaven’s glory and power to become weak, weak like you and me.
However, he did it unlike you and I. He became flesh and lived without committing sin. Jesus was truly the Lamb of God. Perfect. Sinless. Blameless. Guiltless.

First we need to ask a question: Was Jesus really weak?

He became sin who knew no sin (Is 53:12; II Cor 5:21)
He laid down his life so others might take their life up (Luk 22:19-20; Rom 8:32; I Jn 3:16)
He chose death so others might have live (Joh 10:15-18)
He became poor so others might be rich (II Cor 8:9)
He relinquished his God-given power so others might be empowered by it (Mark 5:37-39; Joh 7:37-39; Acts 1:8, 2:38)
He was a lamb before a merciless company of fearless beasts (Is 53:7; Mark 15:32)
He was speechless and defenseless while being falsely accused (Mark 15:3-5)
He loved and forgave the who betrayed him (Mark 14:18-21Luk 22:47-48)
He loved and forgave all who hated him and were ashamed of him (Luk 23:34)

Can we conclude that Jesus indeed chose weakness over power? Is that not how true love is supposed to work?

God’s plans are foolproof. If he fails to accomplish something one way, He will always have something behind the scene that will come through when needed.

Satan thinks he has it all figured out. He believes his dominion over the world is unchallengeable, his death threat forever intact and his plan of deception and destruction over mankind unequaled. Being the father of lies (Joh 8:44) he is the chief deceiver,  deceived and dead wrong.

There is one thing Satan never experienced in Heaven nor will he ever understand about God. And that is: God’s weakness and the profound love of God birthed in that weakness. Satan and his hordes of fallen angels are  completely dumfounded by continually being defeated by the power of God’s love. God’s love has the capacity (unlike any other agent known on earth) to attract the human soul beyond sin’s gravitational pull and cause it to fall in total surrender before its Creator. As one lady radio announcer phrased it: “God’s love is the most compelling force in the entire universe”. It most definitely is.

And here is how. God’s power is perfected in weakness:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

The word “strength” in this verse is the Greek word “δύναμις” [dunamis] which is translated into English as “force” or specifically, “miraculous power”. The word “dynamite” is derived from this same Greek word. What does this all mean?

This tells us that God, in the most infinitely weak form possible, came to this earth in the “likeness” of sinful flesh to perfect His power. God became infinitely weak through his death on a cross so that He might become …………. infinitely powerful! So powerful in fact that Jesus is now worthy to receive all of the fullness of God’s glory, might and honor – “even in him” (Eph 1:10). Now that is something to get excited about.

From “It Is Good” to “It Is Finished” – Jesus, Our Seventh Day Of Eternal Rest

As mentioned at the outset, God said after each act of creation the words “it is good” (6x). This tells us that God had one more act of creation to perform – an act to bring everything full circle and complete His final, perfect plan waiting to unfold from the beginning of time.

According to God’s Word one day with the Lord can be 1,000 years or 1,000 years as one day (2 Pet 3:8). Therefore it is not coincidental that Jesus Christ appeared on earth exactly 6 days (6,000 years) after God’s work of Creation. God in the Old Testament rested on the seventh day from His work of creation (Gen 2:1-3) and also reserved this day for mankind’s physical rest (Mar 2:27). In the New Testament, Jesus offers those who believe and trust in him a new life with a new beginning (2 Cor 5:17). Jesus can be seen as the seventh day from creation offering mankind the gift of eternal ‘spiritual’ rest (Mat 11:28-29; Heb 3:11, 4:9-11; Rev 14:13). The Lord completed or finished His final creative week of seven days when Jesus fulfilled the Father’s perfect will.

What was that final act or work of perfection God needed to perform?

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. John 4:34  

God’s perfect will was to manifest Himself in weakness as the Son (flesh) of God on earth to offer salvation to a fallen world through his sinless blood and give the hope of eternal rest (life) to those under the power of sin and death by the god of this world. It was through this sacrificial act that God revealed to the world the most magnificent and profound nature of His person being – His deep, profound love.

The death of Jesus Christ as the sacrificial Lamb of God and Savior of the world was God’s seventh and final ‘work’ that fulfilled the Father’s will and ‘finished’ His creative plan on earth:

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. John 19:30 

In conclusion, God’s perfected power is expressed and manifested in the form of the God-man Jesus Christ. Jesus is the embodiment of that perfected power and rules “at God’s right hand” in the seat of Heaven having all authority and power over all of Creation (Rev 1:12-18). All because of weakness and all because of love. God’s love. For God is love.

Be Blessed & Be Free in Jesus’ Name. Amen

(Credit: Photo of baby & finger)

His Hands

Hand 1

Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. Psalms 145:16 

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; Col 2:13-14

That Nothing Be Lost

And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? John 6:4-5

Jesus performed the miracle of feeding around five thousand men not including women and children with five loaves of bread and two fish. It is one miracle a child who ever attended a church Sunday school for any length of time will hear and never forget. In fact, it has been said by at least one seasoned minister and missionary who has travelled preaching the Gospel to many different continents around the world that this will be one question he will ask Jesus in Heaven: “Jesus, about those loaves and fishes. How did you do that?”

It is a miracle of miracles. One thing we sometimes might miss about this miracles is what Jesus did after it was over. What did Jesus do?

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

Jesus asked the disciples to pick up the crumbs left over from the miracle. Why? Why would Jesus bother to have the aftermath of the miracle, the discarded bits and pieces of what either fell out of people’s mouths or the byproduct of the breaking and distribution process be saved? Because Jesus is very concerned about how his miracles are handled and what becomes of them. Even the pieces that seem worthless and of no value.

What are the greatest miracles on earth? Some might mention “one of the great wonders of the world”, a brilliant work of art or an inspiring architectural design. However, the real answer is right before our eyes. The greatest living miracle on this earth is the person who stares back at you in the mirror. You. You are the most spectacular living miracle on earth, a living, breathing creation made in God’s own image.

God is concerned over the miracle’s crumbs because He ever wastes his miracles. What the Lord does is meant forever, for eternity (Ecc 3:14). God is interested in the lives of people who appear worthless and of seemingly little value. You see, God is highly concerned about the miracle when he formed you and every other living soul from the dust of the earth. That nothing, that no one be lost.

If God went to great lengths to collect the crumbling aftermath of a few pieces of bread and fishes, how much more is God concerned about picking up and collecting the wreckage of the soul broken by the sins of self and by the sins of this world?

Someone recently remarked about a mother’s love, nothing is more powerful than the love of a mother. A mother’s love will go to the extreme and fight for their children like no one else will. Well, that may or may not be true depending on who you ask. But, we have to admit women are fantastic creations and God surely knew what He was doing when He made them.

But, I’d like to propose here that there is a love greater than the love of an earthly mother or an earthly father. Whose love is that? It is the love of the Father in Heaven who walked in flesh upon this earth. The love of Jesus surpasses all earthbound love. The Father’s love is a love that is greater than life. It is a love that loves you more than you love yourself. You cannot, nor anyone else, love you greater than the love Jesus has for you. People will fail you and even the best fall short in the love mission. One writer stated the following: “The highest plane of human existence is to live and to walk in the perfect love of God.” There is no better place on earth to be.

His Hands

And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: Matthew 17:22 

The opening scripture reveals that by opening His hands, God postured all of His creation to experience His graciousness. God wants to be recognized as the satisfier of all living. On a more personal level, God enjoys being enjoyed. The soul that is attracted to God is a soul that is attractive to God (I Sam 16:7).

Those same hands that created life were allowed to be placed into the hands of the created. That is true love. That is a love only the Father of creation can and will do. How does this relate to us? It is said that our Eternity rests on many things such as what we say and by what we do. But, one thing that will surely determine our destiny will be how we have treated Jesus and his truth that was placed into our hands.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 1 John 1:1 

How do you treat him? How do I treat him?

In Conclusion

Jesus is interested in your brokenness. Jesus is concerned over your mistakes, your failures and your shortcomings. Jesus is very interested in what happens to his miracles, the miracle produced when he made you (Ps 139:14-16), that your pieces be gathered up, healed and restored. That nothing be lost. 2 Pet 3:9

In Jesus’ Name. Amen!

The Treasures of Darkness – The Savior

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. Matthew 27:45  

In the final installment in this ‘Treasures’ series, we will look at three specific treasures of darkness given to mankind by the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.

These treasures first appear in Genesis chapter one and weave and spin their threads throughout the entire Word of God all the way to the Book of Revelation. And all three are essential for our understanding and good to get a hold of. Let’s take a look at this.

Treasures of the Savior – Light, Life & Love

The treasures we are speaking of are Light, Life and Love and all first appear in Genesis chapter one. The first act of creation is the appearance of the first treasure, Light:

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. Genesis 1:3  

The phrase “Let there be” is the Hebrew word ‘hâyâh‘ which means “to exist, be or become, come to pass“. In other places during His work of Creation the Bible uses the phrase “And God created” which is the Hebrew word ‘bârâ‘ which means “to create, choose, or make appear”  (Strongs Concordance).

Note that God did not ‘create’ light, He let light exist. God did not create light because He IS Light (I Joh 1:5). God did more in Gen 1:3 than just release photons or electromagnetic radiation into the cosmos. Rather He released or purposed into existence the plan (Word/Logos – Joh 1:1) where He would ultimately express His true Being and Person. This is something we will look at shortly in detail and key to understand exactly what God is doing here.

The next several works of God are the creation of Life forms on the earth:

Genesis 1:11  And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. (Day 3)

Genesis 1:20  And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. (Day 5)

Genesis 1:21  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Day 5)

Genesis 1:24  And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. (Day 6)

God saved His best work for last by handcrafting prized beings in His own image whom he could love and they would all together love each other:

Genesis 1:27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Day 6) 

And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  Genesis 2:22-24

Now let’s take a deeper look at this first treasure called light.

The Savior’s Treasure of True Light

Before launching into this it might be good to establish three preliminary understandings about God: 1) God is omnipresent (occupies all space), 2) God is omniscient (all knowing), and 3) God is omnipotent (all powerful). Therefore, God knew before speaking His first word of Creation that this Heaven and earth He was about to create would soon (against His will) become engrossed in darkness and sin. And He would judge it and replace it with a new Heaven and a new earth (II Pet 3:10, Rev 21:1). He knew that Adam and Eve would sin and the people occupying earth would as a whole turn their backs on HIm and resist HIs plan for their lives. Why being this up?

Whatever God creates is forever (Ecc 3:14). God never wastes what He creates. He will either use it for His glory or He will reject it in righteous judgment. The Lord grafted a plan within a plan in Genesis chapter one. On the surface, it appears this Creation which He knew in His foreknowledge would fail to live up to its expectations would ultimately be destroyed, hopelessly terminated and forgotten. However, within His creative work God provisioned an escape hatch, a way of redemption to save anyone who would faithfully stay true to Him and obey His Word regardless of the conditions of the world around them. And His sovereign provision of salvation (through the Gospel of Jesus Christ) brings us back to the first act of Creation – Light.

What light is being referred to in Genesis 1:3? The sun? The stars? The moon? No, they were all created in Genesis 1:14.

The light called out in Genesis 1:3, the first spoken word (Logos) of God from the void of darkness, ushered in God’s grand plan to separate light from darkness with the future work of separating righteousness from sin and eternal life from eternal death. God set the earthly stage perfectly in Genesis when He would one day physically visit Himself as the man Jesus Christ, the expression of God’s ‘true light’ and truth (Joh 14:6 & I Joh 2:8).

When God uttered the words “Let there be light” He at that moment ushered into existence the inception of the spiritual dimension and future physical manifestation of Jesus Christ.

How do we know this? The Apostle John begins his Gospel as an almost exact mirror of Genesis 1:1:

In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word (Logos) was with God, and the Word (Logos) was God.

In Genesis 1:3 God ushered into the physical dimension (not created) HIs divine will, a will destined to bring together “all things in Christ” and establish in the realms of time and space the revelation of His true Being and essence:

And the Word (Logos) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.John 1:1,14

The following scripture shows that God literally spoke light, the true light, the forthcoming light of Jesus who one day in the future would spring from this primitive darkness and void of chaos:

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

Even though the life of Jesus Christ would not be physically manifested until thousands of years later as an infant born in Bethlehem, God prophetically spoke the words in Genesis Chapter 1 with the same Spirit that would reside in Jesus thousands of years into the future. The scriptures emphatically state that all things (in Heaven and on earth) evolve around just one person. Everything is of him, through him and to him:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. Col 1:16-17 (also Joh 1:3; Rom 11:36; I Cor 15:27-28; Eph 1:10).

The Savior’s Treasure of True Life

You cannot separate a person from their words. Your words individually define who you are. And you cannot separate one’s spirit from themselves. We all have one, unique, individual spirit that defines our life. It is our spirit that provides life.

God is also a Spirit (Joh 4:24). And Jesus had a spirit (Luk 23:46, Mar 15:37; Heb 9:14). The question arises: Where did Jesus get his Spirit? Was Jesus’ spirit different and separate from God’s eternal Spirit? We know Jesus was conceived of the Holy Ghost (Mat 1:20 & Luk 1:35).

The Bible describes God’s Spirit in several manifestations and/or terms; as a wind (Gen 1:2; Joh 3:8; Acts 2:2), life-giving breath (Eze 37:4-5; Joh 20:22), life-giving power (Joh 2:19; Mar 16:6; Rom 6:9, 8:11; Acts 4:10 & I Cor 15:52) as fire (Exo 3:2, 19:18; I Ki 18:38; Acts 2:3) and as a Spirit, Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost (Gen 1:2; Jdg 6:34; Job 26:13; Ps 51:11, 139:7  – Luk 11:13; Eph 1:13Luk 1:15, 67, 3:22 & Joh 14:26). In the later terms, the Greek word “pneuma’ is employed which is defined as breath, life or just Spirit. There is only one Spirit of God.

Going back to the question: where did Jesus get his spirit? His mother Mary being conceived of the Holy Spirit, Jesus must have the same Spirit as the Father. And Jesus many times spoke that he and his Father were one and if one looked upon him what they would see is the Father (Joh 10:30, 17:21-23 & 14:9). Jesus’ spirit and the Father’s spirit are one and the same.

What we are trying to get at here is that life (specifically human life) created in Genesis Chapter One is only a superficial life compared to the true life available in Jesus. As the first Adam was earthly, the last Adam (Jesus) is the Lord of glory (I Cor 15:45-47) who gives eternal life to those who believe on and surrender their life to him.

In essence, God’s Spirit is the life-giving force that keeps us alive in the natural on earth (our first birth) and supernaturally now and carried onward to Heaven (in the New Birth – Joh 3:5-8 & 4:13-14). It is this latter life that John writes about in his Gospel and in his book The First Letter of John (I John) which is the whole focus of the Gospel, being redeemed from the power of sin and receiving eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ definition of life was radical and would forever flip the tables of the world whose mantra of living is “Eat, drink and be merry”. Jesus’ definition of true life, true reward and true contentment is in the ‘giving‘ and not in the ‘getting‘ (Luk 17:33 & Acts 20:35), And this true life calls one out of the darkness and into His true light (II Cor 4:6 & I Pet 2:9).

The Apostle John ties Jesus’ true life and true light together in his Gospel and in The Book of I John. Concerning the treasures of light and life, he writes the following:

(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us) I John 1:2

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. John 1:4

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12

The treasures of light and life in Jesus is the fulfilment of the light the Lord spoke in existence in the Book of Genesis. And it does not stop there. It continues on to the last book of the Bible:

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. Revelation 21:23

And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. Revelation 22:5

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17

The Savior’s Treasure of True Love

John writes two times in the Book of I John that God is Love (I Jn 4:8, 16). God’s purpose and desire in creating man and woman was for His glory. The Lord wanted a creation who would worship and praise him for who he is. Since the moment Adam and Eve fell into sin he forever desired to mend that relationship and forge a loving bond with his people. He attempted to do that with His called out people, the nation of Israel. As we know that turned out not much better then the experience in the Garden of Eden. So, then the Lord came himself (Mat 21:33-46), made an earthly, personal house call to tell them once again his love for them (Mat 23:37).

All problematic situations, discord and disharmony in life can be attributed to one thing – a lack of true love. Jesus knows this and came to fix it. The Apostle John writes  more about love than any other writer in the 66 books of the Bible. And he was known as the disciple that Jesus loved (Joh 20:2) and John knew his material. He ties together these treasures of light and life with one more ingredient – God’s love:

He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. I Joh 2:9-11

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 1 John 3:14

Of the three essentials needed for following Jesus (faith, hope & love) and any hope of obtaining eternal life, love is the greatest of them all (I Cor 13:13) because it never fails (I Cor 13:8). When life’s version of love fails you, there is a King in Heaven whose heart is more pure than earth’s finest gold.

A female Christian radio broadcaster commented that “God’s love is the most compelling force in the universe”. That is so true. God is love. And God wants is to be loved for who He is. Jesus said that he was “meek and lowly in heart”. The Lord will never force himself on anyone. He is looking for those who are looking for him. Life is the ultimate love test.

At the end of this life we will be judged on many levels. But, the one area the Lord will focus on in our lives is how we have loved. After giving his life on a cross and enduring humiliating shame, he will look at us and ask: “How much have you loved me, obeyed my commandments and loved your neighbor?”

In Conclusion

We have traveled along a road to understand three treasures of God – Light, Life and Love. These treasures cannot be purchased with money nor acquired with human intellect or through social connections. One is led into these only by the prompting of and obedience to God’s Spirit (Mat 11:27; Joh 6:44).

These treasures are eternal in nature and all work together to perfect you and to heal you. There is a saying that “God’s mercy keeps us until His grace teaches us”. It can also be said that His mercy “heals us”. It may be true that we have only scratched the surface of understanding the depths and riches of God’s mercy. Why? First, God’ mercy is not bound by time, it is forever (Eza 3:11; Ps 106:1, 107:1, 118:1). We do not have the capacity to comprehend the concept of ‘forever’.

And this is central to the next reason for us not totally understanding the depth of God’s mercy. No matter where you have been, no matter how you have lived and no matter what sin or sins you may have committed or have been committed against you, they are not able to exhaust, extinguish or surpass the mercy of God. You just have to believe, obey his Word, be led by His Spirit and become a member of His body – His church. We are just not sufficient within ourselves to do this on our own.

The eternal treasures of True Light (Truth), True Life (New Birth/Eternal life) and True Love (God’s enduring love & mercy) work together so that YOU may have a hope, an escape and a future destined for eternal significance through Jesus Christ. Jesus stepped into and then out of the darkness to bring you these things. In Jesus’ Name. Amen!

Hacked Heart – Part I

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:4-5

Computer hacking and hackers in general are subjects not unfamiliar to our world. The advent of Internet-accessible computer systems that crunch, transmit and store personal and financial data has birthed a dark and slithery offspring known as cyber crime. It is estimated that in this year (2019) the cost of global cyber crime will reach $2.1 trillion. As the numbers indicate, someone is being hacked.

The purpose of this post is not about data breaches or computer system vulnerabilities. Rather to bring to light the fact that one of the most guarded and secretive places we think we possess – our heart, is not impervious to inspection or as sanctified as we might believe.

Our human hearts are hack-able, by either good or evil.  There is a backdoor (if you will) embedded in each of our hearts that is open for inspection by our Creator and by evil. Let’s dive into this a little bit.

Impersonation – Satan’s Most Lethal Weapon

If I can impersonate the data, I own the data” were words spoken by a cyber-security expert at a computer data security conference. Before the room’s acoustics had time to smother and extinguish the word’s last echo, it came immediately apparent there was a deeper meaning to be gleaned here and the reason for choosing the training session.

The point the speaker was making is a computer hacker’s goal is to construct his malicious code in a manner that an innocent host computer will be fooled into “believing” (if you will) that its insidious, destructive payload is benign. The computer under attack accepts the foreign code (i.e., malware) as if it belongs, accepting it as its own. When this happens nothing can stop the impersonated data from taking total control over the computer and adjoining computer systems.

Applying this concept on a spiritual level, If the devil can implant a thought of his into your heart, he can takeover and commandeer your heart. He now has access. Your heart has been hacked. The thought that was initially foreign to your established neural pathways has now made you think that his wicked thought is now your thought. This is what happened to Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Talking Serpents Anyone?

From reading the Genesis account of Eve’s interaction with the serpent one might conclude this was not the first encounter she had with him. Why? When was the last time you engaged in dialogue with a talking serpent? The Bible up to this point gives no indication that any of the other animals or living creatures possessed vocal qualities, particularly a language understood by both Adam and Eve.

So the assumption is Eve could have been acquainted with this one-of-a kind creature many times in the past, who unlike all of God’s other creatures, had an uncanny ability to verbally communicate. In any event, her dialogue with the serpent was no surprise to her. The serpent somehow eroded her apprehensions and assuaged any fear concerning his strangeness. Sounds like things have not changed much on that frontier. Let’s move along.

The modus operandi of the hacker is to work slowly, stealthily, and persistently in stages until the target’s vulnerabilities are discerned and numbed into accepting a malicious payload.

The serpent’s first hurdle was to trick Eve into believing that talking creatures were not so strange after all. He apparently succeeded on that front. His next plan of attack was to inject Eve’s heart with lies to produce doubt concerning her own faith, which snowballed into calling her husband’s integrity into question and ultimately the authority of God’s word.

What were Eve’s vulnerabilities? The same ones we battle daily. Her flesh:

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. Genesis 3:6

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:16

Eve was deceived by lies and then both she and Adam became offended and shamed in the process:

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8 

And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 1 Timothy 2:14

Eve’s heart was hacked by impersonation, an impostor hacked her heart with lies. And the hacker has not missed a day’s work since. Anyone whose heart and mind has not been enlightened by the light, hope and truth of the gospel is living with a heart hacked by the god of this world:

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. II Corinthians 4:3-4

Wounds of Offense

And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. Acts 24:16  

This verse always seemed perplexing and left one wondering of its full meaning as it is another one of the Apostle Paul’s amazing, thought-provoking and spirit-inspired passages.

While sitting in Bible school several years ago, the instructor (a well-established pastor who is invited to speak internationally, so he knows his subject matter) quoted this very verse and proceeded to unravel its meaning in a profound way. In a nutshell, this is what was conveyed.

The Greek word ‘conscience’ here is συνείδησις (suneidēsis) which means: co-perception. This concept of co-perception is very important.

Suneidēsis is a prolonged form of συνείδω (suneidō) which is broken down as:
Sun: denoting union; with or together + eidō: to see, to know: – be aware, behold, perceive, understand.

In essence, the coalescing of a thought in our mind operates like a reverse prism by bringing together two (the ‘co’) converging reference points – our thoughts or perceptions and another reference to determine how we reach a final conclusion on a matter.

This is where offenses come into the picture. An offense is defined as: (1) a thing that constitutes a violation of what is judged to be right or natural, (2) annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principals. (source: New Oxford American Dictionary)

How is this ‘offense-free’ conscience Paul speaks about attained? Well you guessed it, God’s Word:

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Psalms 119:165

When our mind uses the Word of God (law) as the reference point in that thought prism, our perception at that point is pure, untainted and Holy. However, when something else replaces or personifies God’s Word (either evil or fleshly, carnal thoughts/ patterns – strongholds) we forfeit peace and become offended.

This is what happened to Eve. Satan impersonated God’s Word (truth) with lies, she then believed Satan’s word was her own and likewise caused her to become offended, shamed and doubt God’s word.

It is the work of impersonation. It is the work of an impostor; a foreign agent has infiltrated enemy lines, donned himself with the familiar garb of its unsuspecting citizens who have graciously granted him mental asylum.

The enemy is a master of disguise and deception. We know this from the scriptures:

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. II Corinthians 11:14

This is evidence of the crafty, stealthy, transformed angel of light impostor.

This is why one must search the scriptures to hide and protect God’s word:

Psalms 119:11  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

In where? In the heart.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Ephesians 6:17  

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12  

The impostor attempted to execute the same hacking campaign against Jesus that he successfully leveled against Eve:

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Matthew 4:3

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4  

Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Matthew 4:7  

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. Matthew 4:10 -11

He failed. The word of God is the hacker’s greatest enemy and will stop him in his tracks every time.

Coming up next: Heart Hacked – By Good. Instead of being hacked by a lie, we will look into being hacked by something far greater and more powerful – Hacked Heart’s by God’s love.

Be Blessed!

Running On Empty

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. I Corinthians 9:24

This one hurts. One of the favorite lines of a preacher is: “As I speak and point my finger to you, three fingers are simultaneously pointing back towards me!”. So, there you have it. As this blogger types this post, two thumbs are pointing back at him.

Let’s be real a minute. Satan is not backing down in his tactical execution of schemes and ploys to destroy the soul of man (i.e., humanity). We read the news headlines on any given day of the week and easily see that satan is not running a “mediocre” operation. He is very diligent and highly skilled in warfare. This adversary detests everything pertaining to God or the things of God.

His machinery of inflicting the most heinous and merciless campaigns against humankind are well-oiled and time-proven to the highest levels of perfection. Observing his forte of destruction, it appears Satan runs a tight shop. Mediocrity? Not a chance.

Can we name a few? Okay, here is a short-list (you can add your own); war, terrorism, political unrest, child pornography, sexual exploitation (sex trafficking), child sexual abuse by family members (and lest we forget, their school teachers), teen murder, addiction (drug, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography, more, and more, and more, …..), immorality, marital infidelity, gang violence, gun violence, prostitution, racism, hatred, robbery, theft, and Internet crime. The list goes on.

Dead, But Still Running

Is it possible for a living creature to be dead yet appear to be alive? Yes, it is. Hunters will tell you it is a known fact that deer can continue to run long after being shot dead. The adrenaline running through their body can propel them for a distance even though they are dead from a physiological standpoint. This no doubt applies to other animals (think chickens).

How about humans, speaking from a spiritual dimension? Oh, yes most definitely. And the phenomenon goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden to our ancestors Adam and Eve. They essentially died spiritually when sin separated them from God. Upon leaving the Garden, Adam and Eve were dead, but still running.

And the phenomenon continues with us today. And if we really face it in all honesty, without being regenerated by God’s power through the New Birth experience, and the continual refreshing thereafter, we miserably fall short in God’s original design – for our spirit to be controlled by His Spirit and Word, which in turn rule our soul. Otherwise, our soul (mind, will and emotions) sits at the master mixing board that controls our body, all the while being married to a spirit that is dead as far as the Lord is concerned.

So, Lord You Mean To Tell Me There Are Some Rules To Follow?

Is it possible to be disqualified in our walk with God? What does God’s word have to say about following His rules? A lot in fact. Let’s start with Jesus himself:

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:22-23

Jesus is not speaking to lost people here. He is talking to the church, people supposedly part of the Bride of Christ. These followers somehow and somewhere became disqualified from the race. How does an athlete become disqualified? By not following the rules of the sport.

It is almost inconceivable there are those in “the church” who disparage anyone who espouses the notion that there are “rules” (Rules? Really?) to follow in living for God. These rule “purists” are seen as legalistic, old school, out-of-touch or pharisaical.

Yet, those very dear anti-rule thinking folk will watch countless hours of football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, etc. and argue when a referee or umpire uses bad judgment or in sports parlance “makes a bad call” against a player on their team.

Please don’t tune out just yet. We are just about to have fun.

Let’s look at some rule stats on just three mainstream U.S. sports – baseball, football and basketball.

The Major League Baseball 2017 Rulebook contains 284 pages. The National Football League 2017 Rulebook contains 93 pages. And the Official 2017 Rules of the NBA contains 68 pages (including an official 114 page Case Book accompaniment to help explain the rules).

But, page numbers are deceptive. Just looking at the NFL Rulebook there are actually 107 individual sections further refined by a total of 315 articles buried within those sections. The bottom line is there are a lot of rules an athlete follows in professional sports.

A typical Bible contains about 825 pages devoted to the Old Testament writings and around 250 pages allocated to the New Testament. In essence, the MLB 2017 Rulebook contains a little more text than the New Testament. And some wonder that it is not fair God would require His people to follow guidelines on their journey toward eternal life?

Am I Running On Empty?

In his writings to the church at Ephesus, Paul instructed the church on some matters concerning the spiritual fuel tank:

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Ephesians 5:18

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Psalm 23:5

What is the problem in not being completely filled with the spirit? If not, then something else is taking its place. And that something else is not from God. And since only God is good (Luke 18:19), then what remains is either weak at best (Mat 26:41, I Peter 1:24), or not good at worst (Gal 5:19-21).

The enemy of our soul will see to it that we fall short in this endeavor of staying filled with the spirit. Years ago the sincere man of God spoke words of wisdom:

“You have to live a balanced life before God. Keep the Word of God and the Spirit of God in equilibrium”.

Being filled with the Spirit maintains equilibrium. Granted it is not all about the Spirit. We have to have both.

Things get rocky when moved off-center. My washing machine can say an “Amen” to that. Have you ever heard the washing machine sound like someone with a jack hammer just decided to bore a hole through the laundry room floor? The sound is from the pounding and beating caused by a load of wet laundry thrashing around in an unbalanced washer drum.

Come To The Water And Drink

There was a time when King David, weary from battle fatigue, pondered some deep thoughts. His mind retraced events to an earlier time when life’s dramas were dialed down several notches and reflections of God’s presence and goodness became more vivid:

And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! II Samuel 23:15

There is nothing like drinking fresh, cool, pure spring water, especially in the heat of battle. The waters of Bethlehem are still available. We don’t have to run on empty.

Jesus is alive! His spirit moves like in the beginning of Creation. Not upon the “face of the waters”, rather upon the face of human hearts. Love has come. Hope has come. Salvation has come. HEALING has come. Come to the waters and drink for yourself:

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) John 7:37-39

Jesus sends the invitation to all who will seek his well of living water and freely drink. And we will never run on empty again.

Be Blessed.