Sunday, March 19, 2017

Meditations on God's love

Joshua 1:8 says, 'This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success'.

The word 'meditate' here in Joshua 1:8 is 'hagah' in Hebrew, and it can mean 'to ponder, to mutter, to utter, to speak, to talk'. Notice the word 'mouth' here? Therefore, in the context of this verse here, meditation involves your mouth. 

I have been taught since young to never allow the Word of God to depart from my mouth, and I am still keeping to it. This practice has been one of the 'anchors' in this journey of faith of mine, and my spiritual 'muscles' have been tremendously built through the years. I thank God for that. 

When you speak the Word of God out aloud, your ear hears it, and that's when your faith arises. Romans 10:17 says, 'So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God'.

I heard these words from the Lord for this time and season: 
"There is no fear in love, because My perfect love casts out fear. Look to Me, because My love for you never fails. When everything else fails, My love never fails. This is a time to set your mind on My love for you, and set your mind on how much I love you."

Notice the words 'This is a time to set your mind on My love for you'? One way to 'set your mind on His love for you' is by meditating on God's love for you. So, go ahead! Fill your mind with God's love for you! (Philippians 4:8-9) And believe for it! Declare these verses below aloud, and let your ear hear! I have personalized each of these verses for you. Speak each of these verses - 10, 30, 60, 100 times, or even more - till you know you are walking in the fullness of each of these verses that God has given you. Amen!

Meditations on God’s love (personalized for you)

1. I love God's name. God looks upon me and is merciful to me, and He will direct my steps with His Word (Psalm 119:132-133)

2. I am precious in God's sight and He loves me and honors me (Isaiah 43:4)

3. Nothing in this world can separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:35)

4. In all things, I am made more than conquerors through God who loves me (Romans 8:37)

5. I have the love of God, and God's love for me never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8)

6. My Lord Jesus Christ and God my Father, who has loved me and given me everlasting consolation and good hope, comforts my heart and establishes me in every good word and work (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

7. I love Jesus and rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8)

8. I have no fear in love, because perfect love casts out fear. I love Him because He first loved me (1 John 4:18-19)

9. God is love. I am born of God and I belong to God. I receive the love of God now and I can love one another (1 John 4:7-8)

10. God abides in me and His love has been perfected in me (1 John 4:12)

11. The life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20)

12. I have hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in my heart by the Holy Spirit who was given to me (Romans 5:5)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Love your enemies. How and why?

"Love your enemies? Oh, come on! It can't be real!" This is one of those reactions I often hear when this phrase "Love your enemies" is mentioned. It seems like a very unreasonable instruction to follow, especially in a dog-eat-dog world that we live in today. Hard as it may be, I personally find it very true and liberating to the soul.

Watch what Jesus says in Matthew 5:43-45, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven..."

Before I write further, let me explain the word 'enemies' here. It is 'echthros' in Greek, and in the right context of what Jesus has said here, this word implies 'fellow human beings', and not 'satan'. When Jesus was to be crucified at Calvary, He prayed, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do." (Luke 23:34) He was saying to forgive 'those people' for putting Him to death, and He didn't mean to say forgive 'satan'. So, we are talking about loving our fellow human beings here.

The word 'echthros' here can therefore mean 'people who hate you, people who are hostile against you, or people who have ill-will against you', and it comes from the word 'echtho', meaning 'to hate, to be hostile'.

In cross-reference, let's look now at what happened to Stephen in the book of Acts. He was a man full of faith and power of the Holy Spirit, and he did great wonders and signs among the people. However, there were people who weren't able to take it, and they secretly induced others to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God." They also stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they seized him, brought him to the council, and set up false witnesses who said, "This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us." (see Acts 6:8-15) Stephen then addressed them, beginning from the call of Abraham, to the patriarchs in Egypt, how God's people were being delivered by Moses, how God's people rebelled, and finally how God's people resisted the Holy Spirit (see Acts 7:1-53).

When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and sought to kill him. They cast him out of the city and began stoning him. And there was this young man Saul consenting to his death. Acts 7:59-60 says, 'And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep'.

Stephen definitely did not die in vain, because God answered his powerful, 'love your enemies' prayer. Saul (who was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord) later had a great light experience when a light from heaven shone around him and Jesus spoke to him. He was a changed man ever since, and he began preaching Christ, much to the astonishment of the people who heard him (see Acts 9:1-22). This same Saul went on to become the apostle Paul that we know, the man who wrote about half of our New Testament today!

How do you apply the above in your life today? Well, you may not be literally or physically 'crucified' (like Jesus) or 'stoned' (like Stephen), but how about being 'crucified' and 'stoned' verbally? You know what I mean. People verbally abusing you. People bad-mouthing you. People gossiping against you. People falsely accusing you of something that you are innocent of. People who speak ill of you because they don't understand (yet) what you are doing. The list goes on.

Let's look again at what Jesus says in Matthew 5:43-45, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven..."

What does it mean by 'that you may be sons of your Father in heaven' here? Why sons? The answer is simple. Because sons are heirs. Because as sons, you have every right to receive all forms of inheritance that the Father wants to give you - divine health, divine favor, divine wisdom, divine victory, and of course, liberty in your spirit and soul.

That's why I believe 'loving your enemies' is liberating. In fact, it's therapeutic. It liberates us. It sets us free to receive many more forms of divine inheritance meant for us, and in greater measures unimaginable to our minds.

You see, love and forgiveness go hand-in-hand. You can't say you love, but you never forgive. So, as you receive God's love and forgiveness in your life, love and forgive others too. It isn't easy of course, but it's necessary. And so that your prayers will not be hindered. Jesus says, "... whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him ..." (Mark 11:25) As a matter of fact, unforgiveness (or holding grudges against another person) is detrimental to your own health. It's like drinking poison but expecting the other person to die. Let go, and let forgiveness flow.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying we are to condone or agree with whatever wrong people have done against us. I am not saying we don't stand up for what is right, or what God has called us to be (or do) in spite of the 'persecution'. Neither am I saying we should bow down to the evil people have done against us. But I am saying we can begin to see those 'perpetrators' the way God sees them. We can begin to see them in the love of God. We can begin to pray for God's love to fall upon them. You see, when everything else fails, God's love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). If God can change a Saul into a Paul, there's really nothing too difficult for Him. And God's will is that none should perish, but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

We can pray God's love upon those who are most hostile against God's Word. In fact, many in the most unreachable and darkest places are beginning to experience Jesus in supernatural and real ways. Many have received dreams and visions from the Lord directly, without even having any contact with Christians. There have been numerous account of people seeing Jesus in white appearance, like a bright, shining light. What happened in the book of Acts is unfolding in greater measure in this end-time. You see, we can even pray God's love upon the persecutors, the abductors, or the terrorists.

How about in our day-to-day lives? We can pray God's love upon those who have ill-will against us, in our workplace or anywhere else. We can pray God's love upon those who conspire against us. We can pray God's love upon those who try to do harm to us. We can pray God's love upon those who try to pull us down. I have tried it. It works. Because God's love works.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A time to walk into a new beginning and a new destiny!

I heard these words from the Lord recently:
"For many of My people, this is a time to walk into a new beginning and a new destiny! Tell them I have meant for them to have a fresh start! Like I did for Peter after he denied Me three times!"

In Luke 22:32-34, Jesus said to Peter, "... I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." Peter then answered there's no way he would fail, and said he was even ready to go with Jesus, both to prison and to death! Jesus replied, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me."

True enough, what Jesus said came to pass. Jesus was soon arrested in Gethsemane, and when a certain servant girl saw Peter, she said, "This man was also with Him." Peter denied it, and said, "Woman, I do not know Him." And after a little while, another saw him, and said, "You also are of them." But Peter said, "Man, I am not!" Then about an hour later, another confidently said, "Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean." But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are saying!" And guess what? The rooster crowed! Peter remembered what Jesus had said earlier, and he went out and wept bitterly.

People of God, we are all like Peter in one way or another. Maybe you have made a promise to God and you have just broken it. You feel terrible about it, and it seems like what you have done is unforgivable and beyond redemption. It may be a sin that you have promised never to commit again, or a mistake that you have promised never to make again. But it happened. And you feel wretched now. To add insult to injury, the devil comes in and makes you feel so condemned you have no more strength to carry on!

But thank God for His great love for us, and for His heart that has always been to redeem and rescue us (Psalm 103:1-5). He is a God of second chance, or rather, third chance.

Three times Peter denied Jesus, and three times Jesus asked back, "Do you love Me?" (John 21:15-17) By the way, the number '3' in Hebrew is a number for 'divine perfection, or divine completeness'. The symbolic meaning here is that Jesus had meant to restore Peter completely, and you can see that He was re-doing everything for Peter, and He gave him a fresh start. Peter never looked back since then. He went on to become a great apostle of the Lord, and he even preached a sermon that saw three thousand souls saved in one day!

Therefore, whatever your situation may be at the moment, look to Him and allow Him to love you and embrace you all over again. His love for you remains the same, yesterday, today, and forever; and His love for you fails not, even when everything else fails. Because you are His beloved. As you let go of the things that are behind you (Philippians 3:13), let Him also lead you into a new beginning and a new destiny in your life, just as He did for Peter. Amen.