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Posts Tagged ‘love’

Christmas red background.Ah, it’s Christmas again! There’s no snowflakes or frosty air down here in Texas, so that old-fashioned Christmas feeling is not quite the same as it was as a kid in New England, but then Christmas isn’t about snow or Santa and Christmas trees either.  We may have over-commercialized Christmas so that it doesn’t have that same old feeling it used to, but it’s still Christmas.

I have always believed that God honors this time with that certain feeling in the air that is different from the rest of the year. True, Jesus was not born in December. I believe the Bible points to the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles as the day he was born, and the Festival of Lights or Hanauka for when he was conceived (see http://www.revivalfire.org/articles/ ), but I’m not so sure that celebrating the exact day is all that important to God. If it was, wouldn’t He have told us?

Neither am I worried about Christmas trees being a form of idolatry.  Or Santa and the elves, or tinsel, or Grandma’s fruitcake from last year. This is Christmas. Do we have to make an intense, super-spiritual controversy over it? Can we just enjoy it for what it is and celebrate the birth and advent of our Savior?

Since we’re talking about getting in the Christmas spirit of things, how about giving and receiving gifts? I have some gift requests from God that I would like for Christmas. He may not be able to fit them under the tree, and He may have trouble trying to gift wrap them, but here is my list:

Lord, I would like wisdom, understanding, and knowledge – the knowledge of Your Word so that I can believe the right things and know the truths that are buried in it, the understanding to be able to know how that knowledge fits into everything, and the wisdom to know how to use it to win souls.

Of course, that comes from reading the Bible every day, so Lord, along with that, I need an intense hunger to read the Bible like a starving man eating the Bread of Life. And while you’re at it, could you also make me so thirsty for intense, prevailing prayer that I can’t breathe without it?

That’s just my Christmas stocking-stuffers. I have some other requests for the big presents under the tree.  Let me start with the Anointing. I need that Presence on me so that it is dripping off me wherever I go. I want to be immersed in it, saturated, swimming in it. So much so that when I pray with or over anyone, they will feel the tingling of your touch when I pray. I want them to know you are not only real, but that they can have a real and immediate access to you on a deeply personal level.

And for my next present (can I have another one, Lord?), I want power. I mean real, Holy Ghost power – unprecedented power – power to raise the dead and heal the sick on whomsoever I lay hands on. But most of all, I want the power to preach your Word under the anointing of the Holy Ghost so that it will pierce hearts, set them on fire, and inspire a generation to rise up and shine a Light in this world.

I also want authority to cast out devils with one word. I don’t want to argue with them. When I say, “Get out!”, I want them to get out! Authority like that only comes from the fear of the Lord, so please heap that on me also. Since the Bible says that the fear of the Lord is wisdom, and James says that if we ask for wisdom, You’ll give it liberally, then pour it out on me also, Lord!

(Do we have room for one more? This is the most important one, Lord, so we have to make room for this one.)

In return, I don’t have much to offer. All I can give is myself, weak and faulty as I am. I give you my pride and desire for recognition, my gluttony and lusts, my fears and darkness, my suspicions, accusations, and hatreds – all the ugly stuff that I can dredge up from the dark recesses of my heart. Lord I give you what I am and all that I have. I will do whatsoever you ask and go wherever you send me – I just have one final request:

Dear God, please, in the name of Jesus and everything that is holy and good, please, please, please … send revival.

crossfire35

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The book of Proverbs has an amazing ability to adjust to whatever message you need to hear on any given day. If you need encouragement, it will support you; if you need correction, it will reprove you; if you need wisdom, it will show you what you need to do to get it. You can read the same chapters over and over again, and they will speak differently to you each time, morphing into whatever you need at the moment.

Sometimes, it’s as if the whole chapter has joined together in a conspiracy against you to drive home the day’s message. Today was like that.

I was first pricked with, “a man of knowledge increaseth strength”. Okay, I get it – I need to read more Bible. If I want to fight battles, win victories, or overcome struggles, I need to read more of the Word of God. When you forget your reading and prayer, you can forget your power in God.

Okay, so now I have been reproved – I have to read more. But that also tells me that something is coming up that I will need that strength for. Maybe a battle or maybe a mission; either way, its obvious that He is reminding me that there is something that I have to do and I cannot do it on my own.

Then a little more down the chapter, I came to, “if thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small”. I remember this one well. A few years ago, the Lord used this one to convict me about going to Africa on a particular trip. (“Okay, okay! I’m going!”). But that proverb was only setting me up for the next verse, and this one really got me.

“If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? And he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? And shall not he render to every man according to his works?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)

Is that our default attitude when we are not being pushed or convicted? Do we maintain our status quo with, “I love everybody, and I sure hope they all figure it out and get to Heaven somehow”? We know there are multitudes starving, not only for food and physical needs, but more importantly, for spiritual needs. Amos tells us in chapter 8 that God would send a famine for hearing the Word of God and men would travel everywhere seeking it but would not be able to find it. As chilling as that may sound, do we answer that challenge by questioning what we can do? Or perhaps more like what we are required to do? Or worse, what the absolute minimum is that we can get away with?

Water seeks its own level. So do we. Left alone, we have a tendency to slip into complacency and rest when it concerns others outside our immediate circle. In other words, we become lukewarm.

And then the chapter conspired against me one more time to finalize it all at the end:

“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

So shall thy poverty come as one that travels; and thy want as an armed man.”
(Proverbs 24: 30-34)

I get it. Life is a test. It is not about us and what we can get for ourselves by padding our own nest and keeping as much as we can, but rather, it is about seeing how much we can do for others with what God has allowed us to have. If we gave it all away, somehow I feel that our bucket would never be empty.

This Thanksgiving season, I want to stop for a moment and thank God, not just for what I have, but for the opportunity He has given us to give.

It’s what God did for us.

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

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“And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people.”  (Zech. 11:10)

Of all things beautiful, nothing has any beauty other than what God has created in it. Flowers bloom in such incredibly gracious designs and gorgeous colors that it makes you wonder at the limitless imagination of the Creator. Sunrises and sunsets amaze us each and every time we see them, regardless of how many times we have viewed their display. How is our heart, mind and soul able to translate different wavelengths of light into that kind of a feeling?

And that’s just the beauty you can see visually. What about the beauty of music? The mathematical symmetry of vibrations set against an orchestra can send your soul soaring. Or the beauty of a loving touch. Or love itself, that emotion that has kept poets working for centuries trying to capture its essence with words.

Beauty is God-given, and as such can only be described in its own terms while it is expressed in so many ways. I imagine you might say that is it is the highest achievement of God’s creation – that, and the ability He has given us to be able to perceive it.

As God’s highest expression of love, Beauty took form of a Savior who came to earth solely for us. There was nothing here that He came to enjoy or experience other than this one purpose – to save us from sin. Paul said in 1Corinthians Chapter 13 that Charity does not seek her own, but bears all things and endures all things for others. Jesus was Charity incarnate, and He was broken for us.

When this grand scheme of things is over, we will look back on this life and finally realize how much God gave to call us unto Himself. His most wonderful creation, Beauty, was broken on the Cross so that we could have eternal redemption.

There is no greater love.

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God Loves Puppies

There is nothing that will soften your heart like a little puppy. If a little puppy can’t get you, you can’t get got.

It seems that the Lord is very much the same way. He tells us to become like little children or we will not inherit the kingdom of God — and woe unto you if you offend one His little ones! Little kids and widows have a special place in God’s heart.

How unlike us! The things that we esteem highly in our society have more to do with our strengths rather than our weaknesses. Achievements, success, and boldness in business and in our careers get the gold plaque and the award. Strong personalities prevail in all our human interactions, and those who dominate win the prize, while weaker personalities take a lower place in most of our estimations.

This is natural. Life is a competitive place no matter where you are. It is a struggle to survive, and Life isn’t always fair. But then, that’s the way Life is.

But God is mindful of the weak, the infirm, and those who can’t compete.

It doesn’t always seem that way, though, does it? Sometimes you wonder why Life is so tough, and why can’t you be like the other guy? Is God watching? And if He is, does He realize what you’re going through?

And there’s always that question in your heart, why me? Does God not like me as much as those who seem to have everything going for them? I know that God is supposed to be completely unbiased, but how come I got the fuzzy end of the lollipop?

Did it ever occur to you that it’s not about what you’ve got, but about what you do with it?

The bright, handsome, talented young man will never have to face the challenges that a retarded, sick or poor reject has before him. Everything comes easy to him, whereas life seems hard and cruel in comparison to the other. How will that play out when we stand in Judgment? Who overcame the greater challenges in life?

Maybe your weaknesses are your greatest strengths, and your trials are your greatest blessings. In the end, what will matter the most, and which will be the greater testimony?

Don’t worry if it seems like you’re always looking up at everyone else. Maybe that’s a good place to be. Let the titans battle it out for dominance. Look for that secret place of the Most High that is found only in humility and the fear of the Lord — like children and widows and puppies who desperately need Jesus Christ as their Savior. That’s the place where you will find Him.

And yes, God loves puppies.

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