The late Bob Jones describes an experience of heaven he had in the 70s due to a fatal sickness, where for several minutes he was clinically dead. He recalls standing in a long line of people, waiting to enter paradise and Jesus asked every person one simple question, “Did you learn to love well?” What’s on the Fathers heart is often very different to what is on our hearts. How tragic would it be to spend life focusing time and energy on things other than what truly matters to God. Many of us think we know what it means to love well simply because we can explain it. Just because you understand something enough to explain it doesn’t mean you’ve experienced it. All of life’s dysfunctions find their root in a lack of experience of Gods love. Loving God, ourselves and others well is the true fruit of spiritual maturity. We will not grow into true spiritual maturity until we experience Gods love in us. Gods goal for your life is for you to love well more than achieve well. Explosive Insights!
1 Corinthians 13:13 “These three remain: faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love.”
Many books, sermons and insights have been shared over the centuries on the force of faith. But the Apostle Paul highlights to us that Love is a greater force than faith. If a mustard seed of faith can move a mountain, how much of a greater impact can a mustard seed of love make? In fact Galatians 5:6 says, “Faith works through love.” Love is the signature of Christiantiy. Jn 13:13 says, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another”. The culture around us has distorted the idea of love by equating it with feelings and tolerance. Love is a choice, not a feeling and love doesn’t tolerate everybody’s preferences and behaviors just because society says we’ve got to be politically correct. Love is defined by the truth of Gods Word (1 Cor 13) and not the shifting sands of culture. Without the plumb line of truth, Love becomes whatever we define it as. We are not self-governing autonomous agents but human beings created in the image of God. We are therefore accountable to God for how we define love and steward love towards others. Choose love as God intended it, knowing that love makes its greatest impact when freely given for those to whom we find the most unlovable. Explosive Insights!
What you spend your money on is what your heart values the most. Consider where you have invested your finances recently. What does your investment say about what is most important to you? Lip service is fashionable in our culture but heart service is more concrete and a true reflection of what you truly value. What your heart loves, your will chooses. Money follows passion. Whatever you are passionate about will be resourced. What if we really took Jesus charge seriously, to invest our money in eternal matters, not simply the temporary? We would probably see a spiritual revolution take place. For this to become a reality, self needs to be crucified and Jesus needs to take centre stage of our hearts. Only then we will be surrendered enough to release into God’s hands what he has put into our hands!
Too easily we look at the problems in the world and throw our arms in the air, exclaiming, ‘What difference can I make?’ Its the 2nd mile that makes the biggest difference. Whats the 2nd mile? In Jesus day the Romans legislated a practice they borrowed off the Persians to subjugate the people they had conquered. If a Roman soldier saw a Jewish person, he could command them to carry their burden for up to a mile. Most Jews wouldn’t carry a Romans burden 1 inch further than the law required. Jesus said, ‘Go the 2nd mile’. Do more than what is expected of you. Give people more than they expect to receive and God will bless you with more than you expect to receive. The 1st mile is the legalism mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the love mile. The 1st mile is duty mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the devotion mile. The 1st mile is the service mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the intimacy mile. The 1st mile is the convenience mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the sacrifice mile. The 1st mile is the performance mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the worship mile. The 1st mile is the mundane mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the miraculous mile. Jesus went the 2nd mile on the cross and called us to go the 2nd mile for others.
Around this time of year, we start to make new years resolutions and make preparations for a new year. We start the new year full of hopes and dreams for a preferable future and then it seems like after a few weeks, the old patterns emerge and we start to make excuses as to why certain things aren’t happening as planned.
Don’t you just get sick of the same old tired rubbish that you allow to occupy your life. Rubbish though patterns, rubbish excuses and rubbish habits. It’s time to interrupt the cycle of the same old, same old and just do what you said you were actually going to do.
God gives every one of us the same amount of time. It’s what we do with our time that is one of the most precious responsibilities we have been entrusted with. If you are going to make the best use of the time you have, you’ve got to stop making excuses for laziness and just do it.
Ephesians 5:16-17 ‘Make the best use of time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.’
I’m sick of hearing people say, I could-a and I should-a. Listen, if you could-a and should-a, you would-a! What often stands in the way of our testimony is our excuses and little insecurities that eat away at us. Take a good hard look in the mirror and just ask yourself if you are actually fair ‘dinkum’ (Aussie slang) and serious about having a crack, and if you’re not, then make room for someone else to and don’t criticise them when they do.
We are living in the last days. This is not the time to live for yourself or your petty little excuses. It’s time to step up and make a difference by contributing something beyond yourself. What lies on the other side of your fears is the sweet taste of victory and satisfaction, knowing that you were one of the few that stood up and had a crack!
Growing up I based my identity on what I achieved not on whom I was in relationship with. Whether it be in the sporting arena, the police academy or in the early years of my ministry, I valued myself on how I performed rather than who Christ said I was.
We live in a culture that’s obsessed with accomplishment and image because western society works on a functional paradigm rather than a relational paradigm. A functional paradigm is task oriented and purpose driven. We function together and what little time we have left over we connect and often very surface level.
Living in this functional paradigm can lead to tension and frustration. When we make life about something other than what God intended it to be, chaos is the end result. God intended us to live from a relational paradigm first, a functional paradigm second.
The kingdom of God operates on a relational paradigm. When Jesus was tested as to what the greatest commandment in the law was, he pointed to a relational paradigm, not a functional one (Matt 22:34-40). He said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and… love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ God’s will is first relational, second functional. We get saved through a person, not a task. Jesus said, ‘I am the way’, not ‘This is the way’. Everything God teaches us about life begins and ends with relationship.
Our identity flows out of our intimacy. Jesus is so attractive because he’s so secure in his relationship with his Father. Before Jesus ever healed the sick, preached a sermon, raised the dead or cast out a demon, he had his Fathers approval over his life (Matthew 3). Father God said, ‘This is my son, in whom I’m well pleased.’
We don’t attract God’s presence through performance, we are already attractive to him and he calls us into deeper levels of relationship with him. Intimacy is not an event, it’s a lifestyle. Out of intimacy God shapes our identity and it’s through our identity, that God shapes our destiny. What we ultimately possess in life is determined by who we become.
The more rooted our identity in Christ is, the healthier our relationships will be. The vertical relationship with God precedes the horizontal relationship with others. If there is conflict in our relationships with others, its possibly because there’s conflict within our own identity.
Your identity is inextricably connected to your identity. What do you value yourself by, achievement or relationship?
I’m fascinated with God! I love the fact that my full-time life on planet earth is pre-occupied with my relationship with God. Could there be a better use of time than living each moment in the presence of God?
One of the privileges God has extended to us is CHOICES! God has given us free will to exercise our power of choice. We can steward this gift or abuse it. The choices we make in life determine how we spend our moments. It seems like there are an infinite number of potential wrong choices to make in life but living with God at the epicentre of your existence empowers you to make choices that promote light instead of darkness.
Whenever I read Jesus in the Gospels, I’m fascinated by his rhythm of life. I could spend the rest of my life telling you all that he did, and yet, he carried himself and his waking moments with such grace and purpose that who he was really marked what he did. How did he do it?
Jesus was led by the Spirit! Jesus had a relationship with his Father that made all the difference in how he approached his life. He only did three fundamental things that was routine (Synagogue on the Sabbath, early morning prayer and observe Jewish feasts) in his life but everything else was led by the Spirit of God. Jesus didn’t even speak on his own authority. He said, “What I say, I say as the Father has told me.” (Jn 12:50) Every moment was informed by the Father, not as a robotic event but as a fluid movement of synergistic relationship. The Father started the sentence and Jesus would finish the sentence. Jesus would pray the prayer and Father would answer the prayer. There was such love, unity and honour in the God-head that God’s purposes could be fulfilled through Jesus’ words, actions and relationships.
I believe this is the pattern we are to observe in our own lives today. I’ve experienced the benefits of approaching life in this way and I want to encourage you to do the same. If your life feels more self-led than Spirit-led than reflect on how you view your relationship with God. How you view God will determine how you live your life. There is a relationship with God where what’s in Gods heart becomes so intertwined with what’s in your heart that you don’t know where one begins and the other ends. All great relationships function in this way.