Archives For love

Jacob loved Rachel.

Not Leah.

Though tricked in to marrying Rachel’s older sister, his feelings never changed toward this woman whose eyes were weak. She was rejected by her husband for her beautiful, younger sister.

But she desired nothing more than to be desired. Leah passionately wanted her husband to look at her with the same gleam as he always did with Rachel. To be tied to a man that had never wanted her, she lived married to him, and yet alone.

So when God opened her womb, and not her sister’s, she believed this would change his feelings toward her. The greatest pride for a woman were children and she was able to give this to Jacob.

Reuben…

then Simeon…

then Levi.file000456350909

Each bore names as an eternal testimony to her inward grief and longing to be loved.

And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me. She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also. And she called his name Simeon. ~Genesis 29:32-33

When Levi was born she was confident that with these three children, Jacob would be attached to her, thus she named the third Levi, meaning “attached”.

But sadly, it was never meant to be. Jacob only had eyes for the younger, and the older died having never been loved by her husband.

Levi’s descendants would be chosen by God to be the nation’s priests. They would have no inheritance but God and live solely to intercede on the behalf of their brothers. This tribe would live to offer sacrifices, pray, and seek redemption for their people.

In fulfillment of his name, Levi lived to “attach” Israel to God. But their labor would be in vain.

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. ~Romans 3:20

Ancient Israel depended on the Law of Moses to attach them to God, to make them right before their Creator. Our contemporary society does the same thing. Baptism, service, kindness, church attendance and more are highly depended on to grant us passage into Paradise.

But just as Levi failed, so does our vain attempts to please the Holy.

But Jesus…

Jesus is our Great High Priest, not after the order of Levi, but Melchizedek, the King of Righteousness. Jesus’ priesthood reigns forever and will continually intercede for us until our day of redemption. His sacrifice that he offered is once and for all valid and will erase all sins from those who enter in by faith.

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. ~Hebrews 10:12-14

Leah labored in vain. Levi labored in vain. Jesus labored once and for all with eternal victory and success. If we labor so to attach ourselves to our husband, Jesus Christ, we too will fail. The only way to enter in to a relationship with our God is to attach ourselves to Jesus’ satisfying work by believing in His Name.

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There’s only one crown in my household, and I wear it. I will not share. Nobody’s allowed to touch it. It is mine to boast of and wear proudly.

For some husbands, their crown is buried under empty soda cans and candy wrappers on the floor of their truck. Some only wear it at home but hang it up in the closet when they leave for work or to hang with the guys. I fear many husbands can’t don a crown because they don’t have one. And others have one, but haven’t recognized it.

But not me. Mine rests upon my head day and night, no matter where I may go. Some ask about it and I am all to glad to brag about every intricate detail and jewel. So spare me a few moments as I elaborate.

My crown represents selflessness. Not just a duty, but a desire to put others first. A servant’s heart that longs for the well-being of others above their own. A passion to go beyond the normal expectancies to fulfill every need possible.

It stands for love. Not a scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours kind of love. But one that cares for friends, family, and even an enemy. One motivated by self-sacrifice and devotion.

On the crown gleams jewels of joy. That even in the midst of chaos and confusion, a song of praise is sung. One that can smile through adversity and shatter walls of despair and sorrow. It represents a confidence that life is good no matter the circumstances.

It boasts about faith. An ever growing reliance on Almighty God. A belief that what He says will be and who He is will never change. A trust in the Lord for every decision and doubt. A lifestyle that pleases God.

It shines faithfulness. Eyes that never dart to the right or left. A devotion to one that never wavers or falters. One who is awed by the Lord’s commitment to them and vows to do the same in their relationships. Never entertaining imaginations of disloyalty.

It is a crown of wisdom. Not just knowing right and wrong, but the absolute desire to please God with every movement. The ability to discern between the works of God and demons. One that understands their role and purpose and seeks to do it well. Is slow to speak, yet quick to listen. But when speaking, blesses those who hear.

And finally, it portrays a brilliance of holiness. This isn’t merely abstaining from sin, but despising everything contrary to God. It’s a rightful understanding of who one is and to what kingdom they belong. Its a satisfaction with the Lord and a life that resembles His Son.

crown

This is my treasure, my crown. I wear it unashamed. It is a gift and one that deserves recognition.

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.
Proverbs 12:4a

I love you, Danielle. Keep shining.

You are not good.
You can’t do good.
Everything in your heart is evil.
You do not seek God.

The Gospel, the good news, begins with this truth. And it sinks its ugly teeth into our pride. “Who are you to tell me I’m not good?” “Who are you to say that I don’t want God?”

But truth is truth. So, in reaction to this, the world has come up with solutions to skirt the topic. Questions to bewilder the evangelist in an attempt to shut their mouth.

And one of those famous questions is, “If hell truly is the destination for all who don’t believe in your Jesus, what about that one guy in Africa who will never hear? How is that fair?”

You may be thinking, “Good question.” But let me blunt. It’s not a fair question at all. My first sarcastic gut reaction is to ask, “What guy?”

Because I can guarantee that this person doesn’t have a specific African in mind. They don’t know who they are referring to. As I said, it’s a rabbit trail. A sly way of throwing the conversation off topic.

But…

There is an answer to their question. I would strongly recommend, if at all possible, to avoid the question and get back on subject. But if it can’t be avoided, here’s the answer.

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Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
Ezekiel 18:23

Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways,for why will you die, O house of Israel?
Ezekiel 33:11

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
2 Peter 3:9

First we must understand this truth. God truly does love everybody. There is nobody, from the cruelest villain to the saintliest monk, that God ever desires to punish. Jesus died the sinner’s death so that all sinners could live fully in forgiveness and joy.

And that is God’s ultimate joy as well. To see a sinner repent, and become a child of God.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
1 Peter 3:18-20

God commanded Noah to build the ark to give the rest of the world time to repent. He could have provided the boat or saved them by another means, but He allowed much time to go by in the building of the ark to give everybody one more chance.

We as Christians long for Jesus to return and are commanded to pray for it, but God’s patience is holding out so all will know that he is God. Countless stories have circulated about God revealing himself to people in China with dreams and visions. About unreached tribes believing in a God very similar to Jesus Christ without a word of Scripture.

So what about that guy in Africa? I’ll just say that he needs to decide for himself. God will make sure he hears. Your only concern is you. Don’t skirt the Gospel with trivial diversions. You must decide for yourself whether you believe in Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection. That only through his goodness can we be holy and enter into a relationship with our Creator and God.

Romans 1:20 clearly states that all people are without excuse for not believing in God. Every person who has breathed on this earth will face God and be accountable only to Him. And yes, hell is real for those who reject him. But eternal life, everlasting joy, incomprehensible peace, and so much more are available to those who surrender to Him. To God be the glory.

Church Shopping Network

September 25, 2013 — 4 Comments

churchbuilding

So many people today are “church shopping.” I despise this term. Christians are visiting different places of worship every week in hopes of finding the perfect church. They treat this task the same as if they were buying curtains or a new vehicle. Current fads, style, and design take center stage as they take notes from the pew.

All sin is grounded in selfishness. Unfortunately, many who search for a church, though it seems like a good thing, do so in sin. Its all about me. It’s what suits me. It’s what makes me feel comfortable. It’s what meets my needs. Me, me, me, me….

Enough!

Take this or leave it, but here is my suggestions in how to search for a local church body to join.

What to search for:

1) A church with correct doctrine and theology. This is of the utmost importance. If this point is not met, move on. Correct teaching from the Scriptures must be priority. Primarily the teaching of Jesus, the Scriptures, and salvation. Many churches have websites now and their doctrine of beliefs are available. If not, don’t be afraid to ask the pastor or church leader for a written statement of belief. This must be solidified first and foremost.

2) A church that practices the Great Commission. Evangelism and discipleship must be the focus. Every ministry should have purpose, either to reached the unsaved, or build up the saved. The gospel should be preached from the pulpit. (Yes, that means mentioning sin, death, and hell.) All members should be strongly encouraged to disciple others while continually being discipled by another.

3) A church that overflows with love. Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Faith and hope are great. But love exceeds them all. No true worship can flow from an unloving heart. No true ministry can occur without it being grounded in love. It’s a beautiful thing to see a body of Christ that would sacrifice themselves for each other. Money shifting pockets as needs are presented. Time spent with each other in sweet fellowship. Prayers rushing to the Lord for other peoples’ struggles. Selfless, pure, and righteous. The way God originally intended it to be.

4) A church that has a place for you. A believer in Jesus Christ is commanded to serve. Unfortunately, too many look for a place to be served. As we search for a body of Christ, we should be keeping an eye out for a ministry to join. We’ve all been granted spiritual gifts, and we should desire to use them to God’s praise and glory. So when we scan over their list of ministries, we are NOT looking to be taught, served, and ministered to. We are striving to find a place that we could benefit the mission of the church.

What not to search for:

1) A church with lots of ministries. Lots of ministries simply means the church is really busy. The question is raised, are they effective? A local body with two main ministries could be more obedient and successful then a megachurch with two hundred. This goes back to the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the heart of love.

2) A church with good music. Now realize that this comes from a worship leader. I can’t stand when people switch churches because they found another with “better” music. Worship is an attitude of the heart. And if somebody can only worship to a certain genre, sin is present, and worship is hindered. If our love for God outpours from our hearts, we should be able to sing a cappella and praise him. But no. We have to have a full praise band, the latest Powerpoint presentations, and room up front to bounce up and down.

praisemoshpit

Or on the flipside, we must only have hymnals in hand and have an organ accompany the song.

hymnal

This is SIN!! No matter what is played in church, you CAN worship to it. It’s not about the music. It’s about the Lord. You can listen to your favorite styles and genres all the rest of the week. But whatever is played during the service is not important. What is important is the truth of the lyrics and the focus of the worshippers.

3) A church building that looks good. The first church in Acts met in homes. Some worshipped in prison cells. Enough said.

4) A church with a well-known pastor. We like sheep have gone astray, each of us to the most popular church in the city. There are some great pastors and teachers out there. Some have written books. Others have TV shows. But it doesn’t mean you need to be there. God may want you in a small country church because he could use you best there. Don’t follow names. Follow God. Even Paul was glad he didn’t baptize people because he didn’t want to hear people bragging that they were “of Paul.” It’s all about Jesus.

I’m sure there are reasons I’ve overlooked but I don’t want this to drag on. My point is this. Church is not about serving ourselves. It’s about serving Jesus and his people. Find a church that you can do just that in spirit and in truth. Happy shopping!

“Mac and Cheese again!?” The six-year-old wrinkled her nose in disgust.

“Now what did I say about complaining?” Her father tapped her tiny nose with his finger. “Be happy for what the Lord provides.”macaroni

“Yes sir,” she responded with a slight grin.

After the girl’s mother dished up everybody’s plate, they bowed and thanked the Lord for allowing them to eat that evening. Times had been rough for the small family. He had lost his job, and now they had to downgrade to living in a camper on his parent’s land.

“I’m sorry, Mommy, for complaining.”

The woman took the girl into her lap and held her tight. “It’s okay. Our natural tendency is to complain, but that only means we’ve forgotten all of God’s many blessings and his deep love for us.”

The couple held hands as she leaned on his shoulder. The future was unknown, but their God had made himself known these past few months. Even if it was Mac & Cheese, they were being taken care of. And they still had each other. Love would bring them through.

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The smell of crab legs and steak enticed each member of the family out of their rooms and to the dining room table. She had made everybody’s favorite in hopes of a nice family dinner. It had been so long since everybody ate at the same time.steak

Her children had grown so distant with their activities, friends, and school. When they were home, they rarely exited their bedrooms. Her husband worked sixty hours a week and even when he was home, still was writing emails or taking “important” calls.

“Tonight, we are visiting. Phones are put away,” she demanded up front.

Her 16-year-old raised his eyebrows and laughed. “Right.” Immediately he began texting again. “This can’t wait,” he added.

Taking a deep breath, she repeated herself with greater force. “Tonight is a family dinner. Please, just for one hour. Let’s talk.”

Bzz Bzz

phone

She winced. Tonight was not going to be the night.

Her husband peered at his cellphone. “Sorry, hun. I gotta take this.”

Her daughter laughed. “Well, it was a good try, Mom. Not sure what made you think it was going to happen. But if you don’t mind since Dad is gone, I’m gonna take this to my room.”

One by one each member excused themselves until she was left alone. Her food sprinkled in tears.

“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” Proverbs 15:17