Seasonal Generosity

One person asks another person for something on December 15th. The second person replies, “Well, I wouldn’t normally, but since it’s Christmas…”

We’re nice to people on their birthdays when we wouldn’t give them anything on another day. Especially our birthday. Social pressure requires generosity at times and seasons, and liberates us from any responsibility at other times.

In the Kingdom of Heaven, it’s always appropriate to be generous. You received freely, so give freely. There are times when the Spirit will answer your questions about how to respond to solicitations with “Do not give,” though. Maybe because He wants the next person who is asked for something from that beggar to learn generosity. Maybe because He has spoken to the beggar or other request maker about a source other than you.

Ask the Spirit what to do with what. Do what you’re told. Be awesome!

A Worthy Walk

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Ephesians 4:1-7

There is one way in, one agenda, and one Chief. There are, however, billions of manifestations of Him, because there are billions of us.

Don’t Fear a Crowd

Yahweh set and declared your value. Others, including you, can make declarations that differ from your Father’s, but the truth is set. False declarations don’t change the truth. They just don’t appreciate it.

Being swayed by the opinions of your audience can cost you your success – even your inheritance.

Wilt Chamberlain (basketball – NY Nicks) had a miserably low free-throw rate unless he threw the ball underhanded – “granny” style. He threw so much better underhanded that in his record setting 1962 game in which he scored 100 points himself, he made 28 out of 32 free-throws.

He was more interested in not being jeered at by the crowds than he was in scoring free-throw points, though, and therefore stopped throwing underhanded from the free-throw line.

Public opinion will be astonishingly silent on the Day you hope to hear your King say, “Well done…” Value the Voice that set your value. Ignore the rest.

Being Motivated

I measure maturity by how quickly a person responds to a situation with an answer that is influenced by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23.)

I believe that our motivation to work and to service progresses through stages until we are finally moved to respond to opportunities by the power of the Spirit – manifesting the fruit of His influence.

First, and farthest from maturity, is the motivation that is produced by fear. Much church leadership has used fear of hell to control behavior and commitment to its instructions. This explains much of the immaturity of members of the church for centuries. Fear is cast out by perfect love, because fear involves torment. He who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:18). This motivating influence is external.

Second, people are motivated by reward. Only preparing to the minimal extent that I have to in order to get paid is miserly. Most marriages are built from this “I’ll do my half if you do your half” system of trade. If I stop being paid, I stop serving. This is an external influence. I want something that I don’t own. I have to meet someone else’s demands to obtain it.

The next step toward maturity is to be influenced by duty. It is a shift from having chores assigned to me to having a sense of responsibility. I become aware that when my chores are finished I should maybe help you with yours. It is still related to both fear and reward, because I am still afraid of being accused of failure and I still am serving with the hope of recognition.

Finally, when I am mature, I am moved by agape to serve. I recognize that Jesus was speaking a mystery to us when He said that if I serve the least of one of His people I am actually serving Him. It becomes clear that no sacrifice is too great, because if I am really serving Him, no offering is great enough to be appropriate. It is the result of having outside Help inside – the Holy Spirit moving my heart to serve with the love that He has for the people He is influencing me to bless. His love becomes my strength.

Father loved the world so much that He sent Jesus (John 3:16) and Jesus loved the world so much that He sent us (John 20:21) and the Holy Spirit loved the world so much that He was sent to empower us to make their love effective here (John 7:37-39).

Our grandest successes in our callings will be accomplished because we love. We will give evidence that we belong to Jesus because we love. Love is more powerful than any other force. It is the most awesome Motivator.

Being Loved 5

John 21:14-19 (NKJV)

This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

In this record by John of Jesus discussing love with Peter, I haven’t found an English translation that is honest in communicating the dialog. The two Greek words that are being used by Peter and Jesus are agapao (meaning something like “my love for you is all about you, and has the power to never fail”) and phileo (meaning something like “my love for you is like the way I love my tribe more than Dan or Naphtali, or I like you because we are family.”)

Consider these meanings when you read the text with the words in mind that were used by Jesus and Peter:

This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you agapao Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I phileoYou.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you agapao Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I phileo You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you phileo Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you phileo Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I phileo You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”

Jesus was looking for agape to be the way He received love. All He was getting was phileo and eros (liking having Him around because people wanted what He offered – see John 6:26). John recorded Jesus at the last meal before His crucifixion praying that His Father would put in His disciples the love for Jesus that He has for Jesus (John 17:26). If we allow it, that prayer will be answered for us. Father’s love for Jesus will be in our hearts for Him.

Ask for it frequently. Jesus wants to be loved…

Being Loved 4

Recently I made a mistake buying a bag of dog feed. Haste made waste. I looked at the breakdown of percentages of protein, fat, etc, but I forgot to check the ingredients.

The previous bags were purchased at a discount when the local K-Mart was going out of business. They were expensive because they were primarily chicken. The puppy liked them a lot.

The recent bag was mostly corn. The pup noticed immediately and began a hunger strike. The bag contained dog feed, but the ingredients weren’t as “real.”

When someone tells you they love you, it is usually easy to discern what they mean. Almost everyone is going to mean something like what Greeks in the first century called “eros.” It is a desire for something. In today’s English an equivalent could be “like a lot.”

Rare and valuable is an alternative type of love that Paul mentioned in his letter to the churches in Galatia (5:22, 23). “Agape” is a fruit of the Spirit of Jesus. Since I measure maturity by how quickly a person responds to a situation with the fruit of the Spirit, I suggest that if the person telling you they love you aren’t mature believers, they won’t mean this.

If you really need to experience agape, don’t be discouraged or disappointed if all you receive is eros or maybe phileo, which is a tribal or family type of affection that some people would have in mind if they said they loved you. You can only experience agape through someone who is a vessel through whom you can experience something of Jesus.

You can draw it through them, like the bleeding woman drew power through Jesus (Luke 8). You can pray for the Lord to use someone to show you His love.

You can teach people how to love with agape who haven’t learned to love with powerful love yet,  by loving them that way. That’s what worked for Jesus. We love because He first loved us. 

Being Loved 3

The deepest, most powerful physical contact combines a manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit that is agape and the fruit of the Spirit that is faith.

When the apostles laid their hands on the 7 young Hellenistic believers who were going to be assigned the responsibility of taking care of daily provision to Hellenistic widows, they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to supernatural works, and filled with the fruit of the Spirit to go out and do them without thought of the cost (Acts 6&7).

When Paul threw himself on the the body of Eutychus, who died when he fell out of a window while Paul spent the night preaching, he wrapped his arms around him and raised the boy from the dead (Acts 20:7-12).

When a believer who loves you is touching you, you can draw up in them a manifestation of the Spirit of God by reaching through them to access His love for you. You can draw on faith or any of the fruit of the Spirit through the touch of a believer.

When the woman who had the years-long issue of bleeding touched Jesus, she drew the power of the love of Yahweh through Him. He was so uninvolved in the process that it surprised Him when it happened (Luke 8:43-48).

The love of God is all around you. Be loved!

Being Loved 2

Need a hug? If so, why? What does a hug do for you, to make you want one, or more so, need one?

Being touched by someone is powerful in many ways.  Being touched by restaurant servers increases the tips that customers leave. At two informal restaurants, waitresses had assigned to them customers who were randomly divided into three categories. Some customers were not touched at all, others were touched once on the shoulder for about one and a half seconds, and the rest were touched twice on the palm of the hand for about half a second each. All touches were casually given as the waitress returned change to their customers at the end of the meal. In all cases, eye contact was avoided.

The results at both restaurants were significant. Customers who weren’t touched left an average tip of 12%. Tips increased to 14% from those who were touched on the shoulder, and to 17% from those touched twice on the hand.

In a 2009 study of the NBA, it was found that teams whose players touched the most often (slaps, hugs, taps or bumps) were more cooperative, played better and won more games.

Like anything powerful, influence that is used to control is like witchcraft, and influence that is used to liberate is like Jesus. When you are comforting or encouraging or offering any blessing to someone, touching them will help accomplish the work. When someone is touching you, beware the manipulation and absorb the love.

Being Loved

Normally, when John mentioned himself in what we call his gospel, he called himself “the beloved disciple,” or in some translations, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

Scriptures don’t clearly offer a doctrine on the issue, but I am convinced there is a direct cause/effect relationship between the fact that he knew he was much loved and the fact that he received the experiences he recorded as the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Two contrasts from this awareness of being loved by Jesus are those of Peter and Judas. Both of them betrayed Jesus.

Peter, I believe, knew to some degree that Jesus loved him, and was therefore able to receive His forgiveness for his curse-laced denial of even knowing Jesus. Judas was least conscious of the love of Jesus, and, I believe, was not capable of imagining being forgivable for his betrayal of “innocent blood.”

I suggest that the more aware you are, and subsequently the more receptive you are of the Love that Jesus has for you, the more effective you will be in your ministry. Also, the more revelation you will have with regard to the identity of Jesus, and the more understanding you will have with regard to your own identity.

Be loved!


Good Word

Eu – Logos: good word. Eulogy is how its spelled if its at your funeral.

Some people get to pick the epitaph that goes on their grave stone. Others have one written for them or about them. Some wouldn’t be what the deceased would have hoped for.

Nobody knows you better than Yahweh. If He was going to write something on your grave stone, what would it be?