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The Suffering Servant

Sometimes, I will send a text to myself when I have a thought I don’t want to forget.  The following quote is an expanded version of one such text I sent myself while thinking about the nature of love:

Love is “unfair,”  in favor of the beloved.  Love looks like a suffering servant – it’s the strong bearing with the weak, it’s putting others above oneself, it’s choosing mercy instead of judgment, it’s speaking grace and life in the face of death.  Because love doesn’t “know after the flesh,”1 it cannot and does not react or respond; certainly not with evil.  Love, being founded in the nature of God Himself, CANNOT be changed or overcome.2   Love isn’t painful in and of itself, but until the world is matured and perfected, love must and will take the form of suffering servanthood.  We must know this: if the Kingdom/Reign of God (the expression of the nature and will of the Spirit) is ever to be manifested on earth, it must do so through the body of Christ on earth!  As such, those who are Christ’s cannot repay evil with evil – not even a slight evil with an even slighter evil.  As should be obvious, repaying evil with evil, violence with violence, anger with anger, selfishness with selfishness, insult with insult, etc. simply perpetuates evil.  To end this cycle, someone has to absorb blows and insults, without returning them.  Someone has to walk in a higher plane than reasonings and reactions based on ego and fear; demonstrating the nature of God by showing KINDNESS to those who are undeserving, by speaking truth and life in spite of persecution, by both proclaiming and demonstrating God’s nature and mind.  This, by the way, does not mean pointing out “sin” any time you see it.  Doing that is actually administering DEATH.  It means showing and offering Life.

As I’ve said many times before, I am optimistic for the future.  I am confident that death will be swallowed up by life, light will banish darkness, truth will prevail over lies, Christ will replace Adam, and love will overcome fear.  In fact, I am certain of these things, because I am certain that in Christ, from the foundation of the world, they have already been accomplished!  Time and space place inescapable constraints on flesh and blood, but they have no such constraint on Spirit, where the end is known from the beginning and both past and future are merely parts of one whole.  In the Spirit, death IS swallowed up by life, and love IS the foundation of all things.  Just how and when these things will manifest in time and space, I don’t know. But I am confident they will.  Now, I am very aware that there is much I don’t know!  I am just increasingly confident that Christ has fully prevailed, so therefore NOTHING can stop the manifestation of love and truth and Life!

It bears repeating: true love often involves suffering.  Love suffers because it absorbs the various abuses that stem from fear, ignorance, and unbelief, but never returns them.  Paul wrote that Christ’s body is to “overcome evil with good.”  Love overcomes evil in the same way that light overcomes darkness, and truth overcomes lies.  Love suffers yet overcomes, because it doesn’t change or cease when things are difficult or when opposition is strong.  Jesus, the greatest man to ever live, allowed himself to be abused, beaten to shreds and crucified by prideful religious fanatics and a callous military and political system – in order to save them all!

I’ll end with this: what if the “salvation” Paul wrote of has more to do with aligning ourselves with and then bringing the “Kingdom of God/Heaven” to earth than it does with going to “heaven” when we die!?  What if, as the body of Christ, WE are the only ministers of salvation this world has – a world that still remains in darkness and needs it!  What if love is the necessary foundation, without which any preaching is useless?  What if the way we minister this salvation is no longer primarily by “preaching,” but by sacrificial LOVING, even if that means physical death!  Are we willing, or willing to be willing?  Our Spirit is.

Be blessed my friends, thanks for reading.

 

 

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:16
  2. 1 John 4:7, 1 Corinthians 13:8
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Posted by on August 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Overwhelming Love

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I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love; being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit.” (Eph 4:1-4 WEB (R))

…that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ; from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love. (Eph 4:14-16 WEB (R))

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. But if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he doesn’t yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, the same is known by him. (1Co 8:1-3 WEB (R))

To truly follow Christ, one must remain humble and teachable – not simply willing to change one’s understanding and perception, but EAGER to do so.  Sentimentality has no place in a spiritual walk; change is often just another word for growth.  So, I am certainly not against seeking to gain correct “knowledge” or “information” about God’s ways or character, but I want to highlight that while knowledge has its place, it MUST be secondary and subject to love, or it becomes poisonous instead of nourishing.  I think you could say this: love without knowledge is immature, but knowledge without love is hurtful

In Ephesians 4:16, Paul says that a mature and healthy body will be “building itself up in love.”  Love is vital to growth within the body of Christ, and since we are one body, we are actually OBLIGATED to love one-another, as Paul also writes in Romans 13:8.  However, because many leaders and ministers have preferred knowledge over love, and because so many believers have allowed themselves to be divided over who is right and wrong in their understanding, the body of Christ has been divided and its growth has been stunted. 

This can be a bit confusing, because scripture says knowledge “puffs up” (makes one proud), and that one day knowledge will pass away, but it also says in many places that knowledge is very good and valuable. I believe one simple reason for this is that there are two sorts of knowledge: knowledge of the mind (information/reason), and knowledge of the spirit (revelation/light). These are quite different, and it is the knowledge of the mind, aka information or reason, which tends to make men proud and which will one day pass away. This may be a startling statement, but it’s true:  we should never cut ties with a brother just because they don’t have the knowledge or understanding we do.  If we do, we’re preferring knowledge over love and stunting growth within our own body!

It’s easy to say all this, but I’ll be the first to admit practicing this requires discernment and a lot of patience.   In Ephesians 4:2, Paul says we should be “bearing with one another in love.” The word “bearing” is also translated as “suffer” and “endure.”  It’s often hard and taxing to accept others where they are, when you can see their faults but they stubbornly won’t or can’t.  But love compels us to do so, and we want others to do the same for us.  Bearing with one-another may be the only hope we have of maturing.

Here’s my disclaimer: this doesn’t mean we shirk from speaking the truth, even at times if we know it will offend others, nor does it mean we have to accept anything and everything someone does or says.  Truth AND love are essential.  Jesus offended religious people all the time, but it wasn’t his intention or goal.  He simply saw how the ways of the religious were damaging and leading astray those who were truly seeking God’s way, and spoke undiluted truth in love for his Father and his Father’s people. 

Paul also knew the importance of knowledge, praying  that the love of his fellow believers would grow and abound in greater knowledge and discernment, so that they wouldn’t  tolerate and devote themselves to various things which seem good but are devoid of actual, spiritual life.1  What all this does mean is that we must value love and unity more highly than knowledge.  It means we let love “overwhelm” our insistence that others see or conform to our way.  It means we live at peace with everyone to the fullest extent we can while abiding in Christ.  If someone seems incredibly immature and stuck in their ways – don’t divide from them or attack them, but bear with them in love (you may have been that way yourself once).  If someone contradicts or seems to disrespect your ways – don’t divide from them or attack them, but bear with them in love.  Again, this requires discernment and a connection with God, as there are millions of challenging scenarios when you’re talking about relationships between people.  Ultimately, be led of the spirit.

If we can follow the law of love and accept one-another in peace, we keep the body of Christ connected and thus love can flow and growth WILL take place.  Like Paul said, we should be EAGER to keep the unity of the spirit.  Don’t all want truth, when all is said and done?  Honestly, some don’t, but we can rest assured that God will ultimately have His way.  In the meantime, choose the way of love – to bear with your brothers and sisters.

God bless you…

  1. Philippians 1:9-11

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Rethinking God’s Blessings

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”1

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”2

“For whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.  It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.”3

I will try to keep this post shorter than most, for a change.  God is so different from the ways ALL religions perceive Him.  He’s not “like” or “unlike” anyone or anything.  He is Holy (separate), different from all else.  He is who He is.  Even the apostle Paul wrote that God’s mind, judgments and ways cannot be discovered by man.4  Therefore when something happens in our lives that doesn’t make sense to us as those who try to honor and obey God, keep in mind God has a different view than we do.  Ultimately, we can’t know God’s heart and ways using our own reason or knowledge.  Knowing God ONLY comes by intimacy and divine revelation from the Spirit of God Himself.  In 1 Corinthians 2:11, Paul wrote this: “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” 

So often, believers say that while America is not perfect, we are “blessed” to live here.  It’s true that in a physical sense, we have freedom, wealth, and opportunity that are almost unimaginable for literally billions of people on this planet. We call these things the blessings of God, but are they?  While I appreciate these things just as most do, I think they are actually often hindrances and distractions to the true pursuit and knowledge of God, and they aren’t His blessings at all.

God is concerned with our spiritual growth and development.  Our flesh He doesn’t care about, and often hinders true spiritual growth.  The concept of the spiritual realm is still one that is hugely misunderstood and largely ignored within Christianity.  (That sad fact drives me crazy).  But it’s the realm of the spirit which God deals in and is concerned with.  I don’t think He honestly cares that much if in the natural realm we have lots of money and opportunity, or next to none.  Christians remain under intense persecution all around the world, and you can read in Acts some of the horrible things the first believers had to endure for their faith.  Does God love these believers less?  Were they less “blessed?”  No, not as God sees it.  They were more blessed, because they had more wisdom, understanding, revelation, anointing, communion, power, and grace from God.  Those are His true blessings.  His blessings are in the spiritual realm.

When things aren’t going your way, when you’re going through all varieties of hardships and trials, when you’re suffering and don’t know “why,” try to resist the common lie that God is angry at you and is punishing you.  Know this: we believers, who have a spiritual Father, are spiritual beings ourselves, merely residing in a temporary fleshly container.  So if the container is suffering, or our own will is crossed, don’t doubt that God still loves you, He is working on the spirit.

If our so-called “blessings” disappear in the physical world, whether this were to be sudden or gradual, maybe this prepares a way for us to perceive, appreciate and pursue the spiritual blessings that we have and are available but we’ve been distracted from.

To those suffering now: maybe your Father is chastising you, but then again maybe He’s blessing you.  Maybe in the end there’s no difference.

  • 1. John 15:2
  • 2. 1 Peter 4:12-13
  • 3. Hebrews 12:6-10
  • 4. Romans 11:33-34
 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Violence and Suffering

 “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”  -Jesus

“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”  -Jesus

“…encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”  (Acts 14:22)

“I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus…”  (Revelation 1:9)

This may be one of the most important blogs I have written, because it exposes one of the most persistent deceptions and hindrances facing those who are truly seeking to know and honor God.  It’s a deception I’ve faced myself.  The deception is basically this: passive faith is all that is needed to access God’s Kingdom and to fulfill His will.  It’s simply not true.  Both Jesus and the first apostles told us multiple times that we must be diligent, strive, suffer and be violent to access the Kingdom of God and to do His will.  But today, for whatever reason, there seems to be a prevailing attitude that we simply need to “believe,” and God will do and give us everything.  Certainly we need to believe, but certainly not is everything “automatic” after that. 

In pursuing God and understanding the new covenant which Jesus brought, it’s helpful to look back to the old testament, because the old testament is full of physical examples that represent spiritual realities for us today.  The following scriptures (and many more) demonstrate this: 

“Now these things happened to them (ancient Israelites) as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”  (1 Corinthians 10:11) 

“Now if He (Jesus) were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law;   who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (spiritual realities which Jesus taught about)…”  (Hebrews 8:4-5)

“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself…”  (Hebrews 9:24 ESV)

If the physical “promised land” which in the old testament God promised to the Israelites represents the spiritual Kingdom of God today, it’s helpful to see how God gave the physical land to Israel and how they came to inhabit it.  Between the time God promised the land to Abraham and his descendents and coming to actually inhabit the land under Joshua, Israel faced years of hardship such as enslavement and oppression in Egypt, wilderness wandering, brutal wars with surrounding nations, etc.  And even once Joshua led them into the land, there were enemies there that needed to be conquered and driven out.

Thus we see clearly that in the spirit realm all believers in Jesus are going to have to wander and seek and fight and strive, at least for a season.  The enemies faced by spiritual Israel, the church, are religion, fear, pride, self-preservation, disapproval of family, desire for worldly success, security and pleasure, distractions, boredom and dryness, bitterness and unforgiveness, discouragement, etc.  We fight these enemies with spiritual weapons.  Once the church finally cries out to God and persistently, diligently and violently follows Him, as Jesus did, the promised land will be taken spiritually.  I believe that day is coming.  Seek Him while you can, from a motive of love.  God bless you.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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