Passion : Remaining=Love=Obedience

     “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.John 15:9,10 (NIV)

      I have had much opportunity to stand upon the promises of God lately. I am learning the wonder of walking by faith and not by sight and discovering how the promise of John 15:7 works.

     “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. “

     Now that’s a heady thing…anything I want huh? New car? New plane? Money in the bank? Instant healing of every sickness? Greater success in my career? Well… yes if I can remain in Him and have those things.

     So it all hinges on this “remaining” or “abiding” thing. What’s that exactly? Well Jesus elaborates on the subject in the second half of John 15.

    Remaining in Him means remaining in His love. What’s that mean? It means obeying his commands. What commands? Well Jesus doesn’t leave us guessing:

     “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.( John 15: 12,13 NIV)

     OH SNAP!

     If we follow John 15 to its logical conclusion we can ask anything we want of God and He will absolutely answer  if we are loving as Jesus Christ  loved. If however we are not loving as Jesus Christ loved then we have absolutely no right to expect anything from God ever.

    This being the case I can no longer wonder why God doesn’t answer more of my prayers. Instead I should be wondering why He answers any of my prayers at all!

     Have you looked at how Jesus loved recently? The man was abandoned by his best friends, pushed through a kangaroo court tried and sentenced unjustly in a day, was spit upon, beaten to within an inch of his life, was sentenced to death because the official in charge couldn’t be bothered to stand up for justice, and was crucified. Yet he still said “Father forgive them.”!

     Meanwhile I get all defensive when I get criticized about my preaching!     

     But I am learning about this “remaining”. I am learning it’s not in me to remain. But it is in Him to help me remain. If I set myself before Him in prayer and in His word somehow His love flows into me. I can love as He loves. When I am in this place of “His love” my prayers are directed. I know what he wants…and I can tell you it has little to do with new cars, planes, money, jobs or many times even my health. What He wants is the world restored to Him… to His love. When I am in “His love” I am finding my heart is broken for the world. I don’t crave its treasures. I pity the world because its treasures are strangling it to death.

     Loving as Jesus love always involves sacrifice. He said, “This is my command: Love each other. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. ” John 15: 17-21 (NIV)

     Remaining then is never going to be a painless activity. The world order won’t stand for our remaining. The world does not value our prayers. The world does not value our Scriptures. The world will not tolerate our obedience to them. The world will consider our love as weakness. Yet only by these things do we remain. Only by these things can we obtain the promises Jesus made to us.

     This all requires our meditation. The Scripture here is very deep. It has many sides. Remaining in Him requires a lifetime of careful attention. But I am willing to give my life to remaining.

How about you?



Are you Being Tucked In? Pt. 3

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  Ma. 11:28-30 NLT


     For the last few days we have been in a study concerning the comfort of God and how to receive. Today we are covering point two, Carrying God’s burden.

  1. Jesus told us we needed to Carry  his burden or switch burdens with him.
  2.       In our analogy of the comfort of God being likened to a good tucking in, I would say carrying Jesus’ burden  is the equivalent of putting on pajamas.

         When I get home at night from the office the first thing I do is head upstairs to change out of my work clothes. I release my swollen feet from the hard dress shoes. I put on the loose-fitting sweats and the warm comfy bathrobe. Then I go downstairs to say “Hello” to Mom and Brenda.
         How comfortable would I be if I came home and went straight to bed in my shoes, my belt, my tie, my dress shirt and my suit pants? I have done this on Sunday afternoons from time to time. I awake cranky, sweaty and feeling like I took a bath in bugs. 
         Some of us go to Jesus with much more uncomfortable burdens than my suit and we never lay them down. We pray but we don’t release the burden. We come away still feeling responsible for it… still worrying about it…still freaking out about…because we haven’t believed Jesus for it.
         Do you believe God answers prayer? Then pray about the problem and then walk away from it and let Him deal with it.
        “That is so irresponsible” you say.
        Well it is if go to Jesus, put down your burden and walk away with no burden. Jesus didn’t say leave your burden here and go away scott free.
    He said “Take my burden. Take my yoke.”
     Listen I serve a big God who knows how to answer prayer…EVERY PRAYER! I also believe He talks to me and I believe if He wants me to do something about my problems He will tell me. He does  tell me. He impresses me in prayer. I don’t have to run around trying to solve my problem  myself. I just have to come to Him and listen and he will impress on me if he wants me to do something. I don’t have to fix myself or you. I just have to pray and then do what Jesus tells me. That’s what it means to carry his burden. When we Carry his burden (the thing he tells us to do) then the pressure is off.

 How does that change your thinking?

Jonah: When We Don’t Want His Will

      “Should I ask her father?” The young man asked.

       “It was her dad’s request that any man dating his daughter would ask first wasn’t it?” I replied.

      “Well yeah, but even if he said no we would still see each other. His rules are so old-fashioned.” The young man returned.

       So many I know have the Jonah complex. We truly submit to God as long as we agree with the way He is doing things. But let Him go outside of our box of acceptability and what we call submission goes out the window.

    Jonah probably prophesied for God sometime between 875 and 850 B.C. He was a prophet of God. He was actually from the Northern kingdom of Israel and was noted as a prophet in the palace of  King Jeroboam II according to II Kings 14:25.

    Sometime during the course of his ministry, though, God changed Jonah’s job description. The Lord told Jonah to go to Nineveh and prophesy to the Assyrians in hopes of getting them to repent.

     Have you ever been asked by God to do something that was entirely not O.K. with you?

     Many years ago I had a falling out with a certain Christian brother. It was all “his fault” of course. I had nothing to do with our problems.      In my blindness I was “foolish” enough to pray for God to resolve the issue. I guess I thought God (being on my side and all) would just smite the guy with boils or something.

    I was at the altar fervently interceding over the situation when the Holy Spirit said something that stopped me dead in my tracks.

    “I want you to go and ask  him to forgive you for your impetuosity.”

    “Come again Holy Spirit?” I asked quite sure I had not heard Him right.

    “I want you to go and ask for forgiveness for your impetuosity and lack of regard for his feelings.” The Spirit reaffirmed.

    “But God I haven’t done anything wrong!” I complained.

     “If you do not get up and go right now I will remove your anointing.” The Spirit promised.

      Jonah had a similar problem. God told him to go to Nineveh. Now the Assyrians who inhabited Nineveh were enemies of Israel. Every good Northern Jew wanted God to wipe out the Assyrians. Yet here was God telling Jonah to go with a message to see if the citizens of that city would repent.

     It was not O.K. with Jonah that God wanted to give the Assyrians a chance to repent. So Jonah turned down the job. He refused to obey. He rebelled. He ran in the other direction. He boarded a boat for Tarshish.

     You know well enough the rest of the story. Prophet gets caught in God-sized hurricane. Prophet gets thrown over board. Prophet gets eaten by big fish. Prophet gets vomited out on beach. Prophet goes to Nineveh. Nineveh repents. Prophet gets really ticked with God for saving the enemies of Israel.

      The story of Jonah you see is more about what God is trying to do with Jonah than about what God is trying to do with the Assyrians. God is trying to Get Jonah to see that God is god and Jonah is not. Jonah you see was like you and me. He felt he had his “rights”. He felt he should have a say in how God ran the show.

    Now you might say “I am absolutely not like that.”

    Really? How did you react to God the last time He didn’t answer a prayer. Did you say “Well that’s it! God must not be real then if He can’t even answer my prayers.”?

     You see true submission to God begins as soon as we question how God is doing things. You know what I’m talking about: The car breaks down the day you get laid off, the guy you prayed healing for a month dies, God tells you to be honest with someone and it ends up getting you in trouble. 

     You see submission is not about agreement with authority and it’s not about getting the best results. It’s about being obedient to God even when we disagree and even when things turn out badly (according to us).

      God was trying to teach Jonah to submit and Jonah wasn’t having any of it.

      God was trying to teach me to submit and I am glad to say I at least got that one right. I went as God commanded and ate humble pie. Later on it turned out that if I had not done that my reputation could have been greatly harmed. God spared me.

    In the days we live in submission to God is going to be a key. Not only that, the church is going to have to learn to submit to the rightly delegated authorities God has raised up within and around  her. There will be no place of protection in judgment for a rebellious church.  

    This then is one of the messages of Jonah to us. What other messages do you see in Jonah that pertain to our days?