Category Archives: God Loves You

See How Much Jesus Christ Loves You

The Lord’s Guide to Loving Your Spouse

John 15:9-11 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

I was recently talking to the Lord about marriage and I asked Him to give me a fresh word on the topic. When we’ve been walking with Christ for some time we can tend to hear the same verses preached time and time again.  If a preacher gets up and says the topic is marriage, certain scripture immediately come to mind in the Gospels, 1st Corinthians or Ephesians.  So it made me laugh a little when God took me too a familiar, yet out of the box verse that seemingly has nothing to do with marriage…. oh but it indeed has everything to do with it.

John 15 reminds us of Jesus’ words to His followers; we are to look to God’s love for Jesus as our guide and example to see love demonstrated, receive love and most important (especially in marriage), how to love others (Spouse).  We cannot look to the world, the church or even our own parent when it comes to loving our spouses, because:
*The world tends to treat marriage as a romantic comedy, trashy novel or sometimes both.  What do I mean?  There is always a happy ending, even if it means disregarding the sanctity and principles of marriage.  The world has no standard, instead it has numerous different ones and use whichever one suits their desire.
*The Church because although this should be where we go for examples, but unfortunately the church is made up of man and often when you look to man you open yourself up to disappointment.  Today, the numbers are quite discouraging, but more than 50% of these marriages are ending in divorce, there seems to be a huge disconnect!
*Our Parents, even though this is where most of our actions within marriage comes from; whether we want it to or not.  Many have parents that have been married for years, some have endured divorce and others have parents who have never been married.  Even in the best of situations, if we will be honest, there are many things that we’ve seen, experience or even vowed never to do, that we less than ideal examples to follow.  And while we should not blame our parents, because they did not have perfect models to follow either.

However, we do have hope and a guide provided by the Lord Himself. Jesus makes it clear with His own words that His example of how to love was from only one source. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you,” Jesus loved others as He was loved by his Daddy God.  God’s love for us is amazing, He gave us His very best when we did not deserve it.  God made plans for us (plans to prosper us and give us hope), He made provisions for us and He wrote a book full of love letters for us.  So, we have to first decide if God has loved us like this, which is typically the trickiest thing to do.  If He has then we are to love our spouses in the same manner.

He then encourages us to live, stay and remain in this love, “Now remain in my love.”  The word remain (or abide in the KJV) means to live, dwell or spend your time in God’s love for you.  The most important thing we can do in order to love our spouses is to become saturated in God’s love for us.  I look at it like this, most of us take showers and not baths.  Why?  A shower is much faster, easier, cleaner and focuses maximizing time to do other things.  However, a bath takes much more time, it is more difficult, it can get really messy and is really focuses on you (you feel refreshed when finished).  We do the same with God’s Love, we don’t spend time bathing in it, we allow a little to fall on us so we can get on to other things (there is so much to do).  When we really abide/remain in God’s love for us, our self-esteem is improved, confidence is greater and our trust in God goes through the roof.  We end up filled and are in a much better place to pour out love for our spouses.  When we don’t remain is His love, like I’ve often done, we end up loving out of frustration, disappointment and stress caused by daily life.  Remember; you get out what you put in, so when that is how you’re loving; that is what is being received by those you’re trying to love.  Your spouse is receiving the frustration, disappointment and stress you’re giving in the form of your love.  Did you ever get a gift you did not want 🙂  When we learn to bathe in God’s love for us and get full, we can then effectively love our spouses; and what they receive will become a part of their baths.

How then do we take this bath? Jesus said “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”  Keep and Commands become important words for our understanding.  The word keep means to guard, protect, build a fortress around; this is something very valuable.  The word Commands in this verse denotes a prescription, just like what a doctor would give you to heal an illness.  This prescription is the word of God, the bible the precept upon precept that Jesus came in human form to display for all to see or receive in written form; it is the “Prescription of Life.”  When we guard and protect God’s prescription for life we bathe in God’s love and are fulfilled.

Jesus told us this for one reason “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (full),” and if you receive this for your marriage today, I declare you marriage will be full of the Joy of the Lord!!!

Familiar Worship

John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

A few weeks ago during Praise & Worship at church (I told you about that earlier), the Lord took me back to the days of old and reminded me of my love of worship. I was singing a song that we’ve sung numerous times; the words were on the screen and etched in my mind. The problem was the song was great to sing, but that is not why we’re signing it. The reason God took me back was because I found myself singing the words to the song, yet not singing them to the God who loves me so much. True worship is to “worship the Father in spirit and truth.” One thing I’ve always done during praise and worship is change up certain words of the songs, to take it from second to first person. That was always something that helps me intentionally keep my focus on Jesus. I can then sing them as if I wrote them myself specifically to sing to my closest friend. I would change the We to I or the His/Him to You (just a couple so you get the picture).

This is just one small way I keep the worship from becoming too familiar. I’ve heard my wife use the saying, “Familiarity Breeds Contempt,” when speaking about how easy it is to neglect and disparage the very thing that used to be “sacred.” The very words used to lift up the name of the Lord can become familiar and seem like just words. It sounds horrible doesn’t it? I’ve got a suggestion for you should you ever find yourself going thru the motions during praise and worship. Don’t waste time feeling condemned, because the devil would like nothing less. Instead, be excited that the Jesus loves you so much that He’s willing to remind you how to be a “true worshipers.” He will give you ways to keep His worship fresh thru you, in “in spirit and truth.” Whether it be changing the words while singing or saturating yourself in scripture prior to; so you’re reminded of just how much love God has for you. Whatever you choose just believe God receives it in Jesus name. Now go on and get your worship on…..

Name Dropping

Phil 2: 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

I was recently in a conversation with a colleague after seeing a picture in his office. The picture was with a former president. I commented and he told me about the encounter, since I also had a picture with the same president, I told my story. What ensued was a battle of name dropping, we both began to tell stories about “important” people we’d met in our lifetime. It was not intentional, it just sort of happened. I realized later in a moment of worship (I hear from the Lord a lot during worship; because He inhabits the praise of His people), that we were putting a great deal of our worth/importance in many of the names we were dropping. Then the Lord gently and graciously reminded me that there is a name greater than all those names we were so excited to share. The name I should have been dropping was Jesus, the name at which every knee shall bow and every tongue should confess.

Philippians reminds us why it is so impactful to name drop the King of Kings, because it is done “to the glory of God the Father.” Rather than try to use the names of others to make yourself look better or to prop us up. Drop the Name of Jesus, who makes all of us better, He loves us and lifts us higher to the Glory of God. He is the only one we need to know J

Oh Come Let Us Adore Him!!!

Matthew 2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,  2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

As we prepare to celebrate this Christmas with our family and close friends, I cannot help but remember the greatest gift who is so often forgotten.  Jesus Christ is the reason that we celebrate every December 25th, not because that was his actual birthday, but because God sent Him as a redemptive gift that we can received for free.

I love the lyrics “Oh Come Let Us Adore Him” from the very popular Christmas favorite “O Come All Ye Faithful.” I absolutely love hearing these word because it sets my soul on fire; encouraging me to stop everything (all of the craziness or this world) and go worship Christ Jesus.  At the end of the day that is all that really matters.

In Matthew, three Wise Men also called Magi (Magi were men who were the advisors to kings in some countries; often asked to interpret the kings’ dreams and gained much of their wisdom by studying the stars) dropped everything they were doing in order to go and worship the coming “King of Jerusalem” (Somehow, when a very special star appeared in the sky, they knew they should follow it).

These Magi were chosen by God to seek out and bless His only begotten Son.  We have been given by God, the indescribable gift of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  He is our Savior, Redeemer and Friend.  We have the privilege of relationship with Christ, and the opportunity to receive His unfailing love.  Oh Come Let Us Adore Him; the word adore, according to Webster’s is 1) to love and respect (someone) deeply;  2) to worship or revere.  Oh Come Let Us Love, Respect, Worship and Revere Jesus Christ our Lord:

-We Love Him because He first Loved us, giving His life on the Cross for ours.
-We Respect Him because He didn’t come to earth to be served (He deserves it) but to serve each of us.
-We Worship Him because He is the Great “I AM,” King of Kings, & the Messiah; who deserves worship.
-We Revere Him because everything about Him is all together lovely & as He is so are we in this world.

Oh Come Let Us Adore Him Jesus Christ our Lord!!!

Happy Birthday Jesus

Don’t Fear Destiny…Check Your Receipt

Numbers 14:4 So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.”

Who said these words? Was the leadership so bad that an immediate change at the top was needed? What was so bad that a return trip to Egypt was imminent?

This was a quote from the children of Israel, after a select group of 12 leaders were sent into the Promised Land. They were sent to prepare an assessment of an unfamiliar place they were destined to occupy; a promised gift from their leader. Oh did I mention that the leader they so anxiously wanted to replace was Jehovah God, the very God who’d created them. Yes, Moses was the human put in charge, but the people knew he was merely a figurehead as all of his direction came straight from the mouth of God.

Don’t be so quick to judge; how many times have we latched on to someone else’s leadership (especially our own) and gone in the opposite direction of God’s leading? Yeah, we’ve been there….each and every one of us. Even though God’s not speaking to us like He did with Moses, in a cloud during the day and fire at night, we’ve chosen our ways as better than God’s.

Well why they were so opposed to God’s plan, that they would even consider going back to the enslaved life of bondage and despair they’d recently been delivered from?????   They were PETRIFIED of their destiny and could not believe that God loved them enough to keep His promise. Fear will challenge faith and distort reality. The devil knows that fear hinders faith; which is why God’s perfect love casts out all fear. The Israelites felt they we’re a mess, a failure, weak and insignificant. There is no way they could go up against the Giants of this new land and win. There is no way this unbelievable land, new homes and gorgeous resort style country could be for them. God could not possibly love them enough to keep that promise he made back when they left Egypt. After all, they’d broken His commandments and complained. He would never follow-through on His promise because they did not deserve it.

That was their mindset, it was what they believed about God. Oh, it’s hitting home now isn’t it?? You’ve felt like this before, maybe even right now. I’ve been there. With all of the wrong that I’ve done in my life, how could God possibly want to see me “living the dream?” The dream that is salvation, freedom, blessings, health and prosperity….you know the blessed life. I do not deserve it…..but God loves me so much (John 3:16).

You know what we have that the Children of Israel didn’t? A receipt for God’s promise. Jesus Christ is our blood stained receipt for God’s love and destiny for our lives. God has paid for our future, one of eternal life with Him, by giving His Son as a sacrifice for all of our sin, past and future. So God knew our future before we started our past and just like us He knew the promise for the Children of Israel. They did not see God as Joshua and Caleb did (we’ll dig into that a different time).   It’s time for us to check our receipt and know that because of Jesus’ work on the Cross, the destiny God has given us is paid for. Although there are giants occupying that place now, they will fall because Our God is Greater, Stronger and More Loving than anything that will ever stand in our way.

Change your mind and like Joshua and Caleb say, “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’   Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”

Preach Jesus and let Him Move the Church

John 4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

Today we began what we hope to be our final home church search, as we have settled in the Houston area for good. As far as we know what God’s plans are. We don’t always look forward to this because it has very often been a very long and arduous process for us, because Jesus Christ and His finished work is not the focus of many churches out here today.

We’ve been to plenty of churches to tell us what we need to work on and how we can be better. They focus on the person in the pew, but I cannot help but believe that the One who sits on the Thrown should be the topic of the sermon. Once we know and believe what He has done on the cross for us, everything we do will from then on will be based on the solid rock. Lets look at John 4

This is the end of a very familiar bible story: The Woman @ The Well. This woman, known by all of the town as a sinner, was literally sneaking up to the well to get some water. Sneaking so that the other town women would not see, judge and embarrass her. Instead this day she ran into the one person who would truly love “the mess” out of her.

Jesus rested at this well, where he would meet this Samaritan woman. Jews did not deal with the Samaritans or “Half-breeds” so she was being shunned by the very people who were shunned by everyone else. She could not possibly feel that good about herself, which may explain much of her behavior. Ahh but now she would meet a man that, in her own words, would “tell her all the things she ever did.” Yet He still loved and adored her, He still gave His life for her. He still had a plan for her. She still meant something to Him.

You see this is why it has been difficult for us to find a place to call home. We may be picky, but we need a place that will remind us about this great love, because when we realize how loved we are. How regardless of the mess we’ve made of our lives, or the mistakes we still often make; that God will never forsake us. That we have a Lord and Savior who cares just as much about us as today as He did when He went to the cross and that God loves us just as much as He loves Jesus….We will do just what that Samaritan woman did, we will immediately get up and go tell everyone how wonderful He is and all that He’s done for us. We will serve, bless and feed others and we will be the church….the one so many of us head out to go find every week.

The sheep don’t need to know how bad they are and what to do to make themselves better or how we can protect ourselves and stay out of trouble. They just need to follow their shepherd and eat where and what He leads them; when they do that they live a successful, joyful and abundant life. Not because of what that have done, but because they trusted and followed the shepherd. (Psalm 23).

It’s Not My Past I’m Worried About…..What About My Present?

Rom 8:1-2 “Free from Indwelling Sin” 8:1 there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

I was all set tonight, I got a lot of work done earlier in the day and evening so I could sit and watch the game unabated. Then I received a devotional with this text and was reminded about not being weighed down by my past. I thought that was pretty cool, but as I read more, I thought I’m good with my past, as a matter of fact I embrace that I was a mess and have been redeemed by Jesus’ blood. My concern and struggle at times is my present….I still mess up and fall. I know that I’m by myself because everyone else that is saved keep it all together. J But I will share why this text is so valuable to me.

Even the heading; “Free from Indwelling Sin” speaks volumes. Indwelling means to be permanently present in (someone’s soul or mind); possess spiritually. We are free from the indwelling of Sin, sin is no longer present in us when we are saved. Jesus died on the cross for all of our Sin, past…present… and future. This is the blessing, God provided a way for all of the guilt and regret of sin to be destroyed forever. On The Cross

We no longer have to deal with the guilt and regret of Sin because Jesus took it from us and placed it on His shoulders. God then destroyed them both and put them in their place….Hell with Satan. Which is why Satan always attempts to give it back to us. When we sin, Satan tells us we’re dirty, filthy and deserve to die for what you did. BUT GOD tells us to “look at the cross and remember what Jesus did,” He goes on to say “you’re Holy, Anointed and greatly loved.” When we know this to be true, “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus

Be Blessed!!

When You’ve Finished Your Race

2 Tim 4:6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

On Friday, May 15th, 2015 I retired after 20 years of Active Duty service with the United States Coast Guard (the country’s premiere military/humanitarian service). What an unbelievable 24 total years it has been, when you include my time at the CG Academy. As I was preparing my final speech as an Active Duty Officer, I could not help but be drawn to Paul’s letter to his colleague and mentee Timothy, in preparation for his departure. I was able to use this text to highlight many very important things I’d experienced over my career both professionally and personally.

I like this text because:

Paul discerns that God is bringing him to the end of his mission. We often want clear direction of what our next step in life should be. Trust that the Lord knows and wants to direct you. “Trust Him with all of your heart… and he will direct you path,” which includes the closing of one chapter and opening of the next.

Paul really appreciated his battle. God gave Paul a passion and led him through many obstacles. He also allowed Paul to win many to his side of the battle along the way. This ensured that many would be able to continue the battle after he left. We have the opportunity to touch many along our journey and there should be many left to keep the fight alive.

Paul took some time to acknowledge his many accomplishments. His work was significant, much of which is still being realized even today. It is really easy to keep pressing and never acknowledge all that God has accomplished through us. God delights in using His Son/Daughters to carry out His work and we must acknowledge it and appreciate God’s hand is bringing it to pass.

He held his faith in high regard. The text says that he “kept the faith,” the Greek word for kept means to attend to carefully, to take care of, observe and hold in very high regard. He took very good care of his faith, feeding it, exercising it, acknowledging its source and guarding it from outside influences. Paul understood that his faith was the most significant part of his journey. It’s what sparked his passion, strengthened his endurance and help to visualize the promise. Remember that what you believe will impact your actions in life.

Lastly, Paul saw the big picture. He saw what his ultimate goal was. When we see the big picture the journey is just a little bit more tolerable. The Crown of Righteousness he knew was waiting on him, made the tough times seem a little bit better and the fun time that much more enjoyable. See what is at your finish line, it will help you press beyond your breaking point and look forward to your future.

Paul’s Valedictory letter to Timothy and the church is a perfect model for reflection on our life’s journey. A model that helped me articulate God’s greatness during my 24 years in the Coast Guard. I’m so grateful for His active role in my career and life……and I’ll tell it everywhere I go; including the next chapter….

When God Talks…We Should Listen!! (Part 2)

For details or context necessary from Part 1; see the below post….

The second time God spoke audibly was at Mount Hermon, or the “mount of transfiguration,” when He said…   Matt 17:5…“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” Again God expressed His unfailing and precious love for His Son as well as the pleasure enamored because of Him. Jesus was being transfigured or changed into another form. Some say Jesus’ appearance was changed to that of Christ and was resplendent with divine brightness. His immortal body was revealed in all of it’s splender. We will one day have bodies like this and I can’t wait. However, on this night, three disciples were fortunate enough to see it, but what exactly did they see?

Matt 17:3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” So check it out, they saw two men appear, talking with Jesus. Men that they’d only heard stories told about. Seeing Moses and Elijah for them would be like us seeing George Washington or the Apostle Paul (why did I choose these two; I have no idea) today having a conversation. We would immediately be smitten and we’d want to hear what they were saying as well as show them how appreciative we were for their contributions to our lives today. This is what I believe Peter was feeling in all of his excitement. He wanted to commemorate, what they were witnessing as he knew nobody would ever believe him when he’d tell. Peter failed to just sit and soak in the presence of Jesus and the miraculous event he was witnessing.

Check this out, Peter was in the midst of trying to do something good rather than receiving (remember Martha)… actions without direction…. God then cut Peter off and said this: Matt 17:5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” The same thing He said before, even though the three disciples were there the first time. So why? Peter was distracted by all that was happening on mountain and had lost focus… Remember: Jesus is my Son and I am pleased with everything about Him. That was His message, but He went on to add something else… Hear Him!” God thought it was important to hear what His beloved Son had to say.

So what did Jesus have to say after God spoke… “Arise, and do not be afraid.” the Greek word Arise means to awaken from sleep, WAKE UP!!! (for my School Daze fans) Then He encouraged them to no longer be scared. Words we need to adhere to. The Church today needs to be reminded; Wake up from your deep sleep; stop being scared (we’ve got all the power and we know who wins). We often listen to smart, successful, humble and impressive people who are great leaders and have significant accomplishments. However, while it is great to get advice from these people, there is only one who God wants us to Hear from (listen too; comprehend) and that is Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus continued to speak and continues to talk to us all of the time.

I believe the key is in verse 8. The text says that When they had lifted up their eyes, our focus is on our situation, circumstance which are often our problems…these are all typically in low places, so we have to look up. What we know from scripture is that Ps 121:1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. Heb 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. When we look up, we can Hear Him! As a matter of fact, when all of the dust had settled they saw no one but Jesus only…And He is all we need.

When God Talks…Hear Him!!

….Up Next When God Talks…We Should Listen!! (Part3)

When God Talks…We Should Listen!! (Part 1)

Matt 3:17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

I preface this illustration as a kid born in the early 70’s. I recall a commercial for a brokerage company called EF Hutton, the company has since been bought and sold a few times and I believe is now a part of Citi Group. In the commercial, two business professionals would be engaged in conversation about advice given to them by their broker. The commercials always had the same ending with the professional who had EF Hutton as a broker was asked what his broker thought. Here take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6ua5xCOlhM (not responsible for any other media on youtube). So much weight was given to EF Hutton, that everyone would drop everything just to hear what valuable information was about to be revealed. The commercial was successful because it was very memorable and the company obviously lasted a long time.

So what does that have to do with the bible or with this verse??? Well, while everyone back in the 70’s really cared about what EF Hutton had to say, today very few seem to care about what God has to say. God speaks in many different ways to His children, but He spoke audibly on only 3 occasions in the New Testament. You would think that God would carry a lot more weight than a brokerage company and I want to share why we should be listening.

The first time God spoke audibly was at Jesus’ baptism; He wanted to world to know two things: Jesus was His beloved Son and everything about Jesus pleased Him. If you recall, John the Baptist was telling the world about the coming Lamb of God who would take away all the worlds sins. When Jesus showed up and was baptized by John, it was there that God spoke aloud about His Son. This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

God loves Jesus; every bit of Him, every part of Him; every inward part and everything associated with Him. Why is that important? Because when you understand how much God loves Jesus, it will help you understand just how much He loves you and I. You see as much as God loves Jesus, He was not willing to spare Him from suffering in order to demonstrate the love He has for us… John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. He SO loves us and He will never let us forget it!!!

He was also pleased with Jesus; the Hebrew word; (eujdokevw) actually means to take pleasure in, to be favorably inclined towards one. Layman’s terms…God takes great pleasure in His Son and He shows Him great favor. That sounds awesome don’t you wish God would feel the same way about you? Check this out, the Hebrew word “in” here in this text means in, by and with. So God is pleased with Jesus and everything in Jesus, everything done by Jesus and every one of us who are with Jesus. You should get with Jesus… back to God’s pleasure… Jesus and everything “in Him”

Nearly 90 times in the New Testament the words “in Him” (not in him) are used to express the things in Jesus Christ. Therefore, that which is in Christ also brings pleasure to God. 2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. John 3:15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 6:40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” If these verses are representative of your life then you are in great shape. However if not….let’s change that. NOW!!! Believe in Jesus and begin your new life “in Him.”

….Up Next When God Talks…We Should Listen!! (Part 2)