Do You Still Love Me?
April 8, 2007
(For printable version click here.)
And thou dost speak My name, Yahweh, but I would say unto thee that thou consider that for which thou were created. I would say unto thee, dost thou consider that thou wast not born of the flesh? Nor wast thou born by the will of man. I say unto thee, nor wast thou born by circumstance of chance. But because thou did come and thou did cry and thou did press forth unto Me and thou did lift thy hands unto Me, I did breathe upon thee, yea, and I brought forth life out of the midst of thy being, in the midst of thy hell and degradation, saith the Lord. It was I that did breathe upon thee. It was I that did bring life into thy being.
Hast thou considered and hast thou thought, saith the Lord, the reason for which I desired for thee to rise up? Surely thou callest Me Lord, but thou turnest thyself to the left or to the right and thou dost not focus upon Me.
Thou callest Me God, yea, but thou workest thy own situations and thy own circumstances with thine own strength and with thine own hands, saith the Lord. Surely if I was thy God thou would look unto Me. Surely if I was thy Yahweh, I would be unto thee thy breath, thy life, thy being, saith the Lord. Surely if I was, saith the Lord, thy El Shaddai of Israel, would thou not get thy nourishment and thy strength from Me? Surely, saith the Lord, it is not with thy lips that I desire thee to profess Me before men and before thyself, saith the Lord, that thou lovest Me and that thou would have Me, but I say that it is with thine heart that I desire that thou would lift up thy soul unto Me as an offering. Yea, that thou might present thy bodies even as living sacrifices, saith the Lord, that thou might come unto Mine altar and present thy being unto Me.
I say unto thee, surely it is not the time, it is not the place for that which is of Me to be given with the lips but with the heart. It is not the time of the rending of the garments, but it is the time of the rending of the heart, saith the Lord. I say unto thee, I desire to inhabit the innermost parts of thy being. I desire the innermost position in the place of thy thoughts and in the place of thy soul, saith the Lord, that thou might give Me preeminence in all things. Not because thou has to. Not because thou art obligated to. Not because of the tribulation and the trouble that is round about thee, but because thou hast come to the place of understanding that I am thy breath, that I am thy life, that I am thy sustenance, that I am thy being. Out of Me floweth, saith the Lord, the milk and the honey that thou needest in this hour to survive and to come into that place, saith the Lord.
I say unto thee, give Me not lip service. Give Me not intellectualism, saith the Lord. But I desire that thou wouldst give Me thine heart, that I might mold thee, that I might make thee and that I might change thy character that thou might even be, as it were, like unto Me, saith the Lord.
I think there are many different scenarios in the Bible that categorize us as far as the time in which we live and the condition of life that is here because of it. One of those conditions that we talked about last week was when Jesus was crucified. He was resurrected and He manifested Himself to the disciples in different sets of circumstances to demonstrate to the disciples, as well as the world, that He was exactly who He said He was and that He could do exactly what He said He was going to do.
In spite of all that, it seems that the main intention the disciples had was that they might go fishing. Have you ever thought that they had just seen this man crucified? Not only did they see Him crucified, they saw Him battered and beaten beyond recognition. We really don’t know the full degree of physical degradation that Jesus went through. You could not recognize the Man because of the condition that His flesh was in, the blood and all of the things that had happened to Him. They had seen it. They had seen it with their own eyes, and they had even seen Him die on the cross. They had seen Him go into the grave and then come back and appear before them all in different scenarios. Yet, at the end of it all, they went fishing.
Of course, you would not do that, would you? Yes, you would, because you have had a similar experience as they had except that you have something that they did not have. They had a physical manifestation; you and I have a spiritual impartation. So, it is really not the physical manifestation or the physical thing that gives you the strength or the power to change (Luke 16:30-31). I believe that we are in a more serious position of jeopardy than they, because the thing that we have is spiritual and it gives us the strength and the power within to change. Now, you can talk all you want to about the inability to change and it is true to the extent that we, by ourselves, do not have the ability to change to the degree that is needed, but God has given us the ability to change because through Christ we are able to do all things. Isn’t that what the scripture says? Through Christ I can do all things (Philippians 4:13).
So, it is a matter of finding Christ, or finding God, in the way that God wants to be found and I personally think that that is the problem. We have found God in many different ways and in many different forms but we have not found God in the way that He wants us to find Him. How is it that God wants us to find Him? The Bible says that we are to love Him with all of our heart and not just part of our heart (Matthew 22:37). Now, I am not talking about salvation per se. I am not talking about getting into heaven. What I am talking about is pleasing the Father. There is a difference. You don’t necessarily have to please God to get into heaven. All you have to do is accept, by faith, the sacrifice that has been made by Jesus Christ and you are in heaven. A case in point is the thief on the cross. He did not have the time to come to a place of relationship. All he knew was that death was before him and somehow there was a revelation that he received that gave him the strength to talk to the Man that was hanging on the cross beside him. I do not know how you relate to that, but I would have thought, “How can He help me, being He is in the same position and condition that I am in?” Yet there was something of a revelation the man had that saved his soul, and it was not love necessarily, it was just an awareness he had, and the fact that Jesus responded, “Today.” I am so glad Jesus said that because we could just assume that is what happened. But Jesus made it a point to say, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43). He did not say that he was going to sit on His right or His left hand. All He said was, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
As far as I am concerned, brethren, there is a difference. I am not saying that heaven is two different places. I am saying that there is a difference between getting into heaven and sitting on the left or the right of God. It is not going to be the fact of wanting to get into heaven that is going to get us into the position of the left or the right of God. Now, the left and right of God speaks of the positions of authority and relationship with the Lord.
The disciples were all guilty of the ‘go fishing’ mentality, even John. Hello? The man that was supposed to be so very close to Jesus was out there in the boat, fishing with the rest of them (John 21:7). It was really interesting to me that it was John that recognized the Lord. It was John that had the spiritual discernment. It was John that had the spiritual position of relationship that was the closest to Jesus and yet he found himself in the same place as the rest of them. Another thing that really is of interest to me is that Jesus appeared on the beach and spoke to those who were in the boat. The Word says that Peter was naked and he put his cloak upon him. My goodness. You talk about spiritual overtones (II Corinthians 5:2-5).
So, it is not a matter of getting into heaven that God really wants. The Bible is very clear that God wants us in heaven because He does not want anybody in hell. It is very specific that there is a place in God’s heart for all humanity to be in heaven. However, God has given humanity the option of choosing whether they want to be in hell or in heaven and, at the end of the day it is dependent on us as to where we want to spend eternity.
But that is not the point of my discussion this morning. My point is that there is something that God wants from us. There is something that God wants us to know about Him. There is something that God desires for us with regard to Him. Somehow the church has really missed it, and I am not just talking about the church out there, but the church that He calls the overcomer church. Most of us want the position of the overcomer for the position of authority. I know that when I heard this word about being a son many years ago, I was kind of enthralled with the idea that one could be in a position of authority. It was not just getting into heaven but it was a position of authority, ruling and reigning with Christ. Do you not think that way? Is that not a relevant understanding of the Word from our human perspective? Yes, it is, but that is not the point. That is not the point! Much like the Holy Ghost is not given to you for the purpose of you prophesying, being able to heal, praying in the spirit, being able to discern spirits and having all of the things that we call the gifts of the Spirit. That is not why the Holy Ghost is given. Those are byproducts. Those are what I would call side effects of having the Holy Ghost. You know, on the negative side, you see these advertisements on TV for medications that do all these wonderful things and at the end they give you the list of side effects, like stop your heart, stop your breathing, stop your walking, stop your talking. If any of these symptoms appear, you are to consult your doctor. That is, if you are not in a comatose state. That is not why the Holy Ghost was given to us. Doesn’t the Bible say that the Holy Ghost was given to you so that you can speak in tongues and feel those little goose bumps run up and down your spine? Or so that it would make you different from everybody else and you could be called Pentecostal? That is why the Holy Ghost was given to you, wasn’t it? Well, that is why they built Pentecostal churches, because they have a Pentecostal experience and that experience becomes the epiphany. It becomes the full summation of your experience, much like the evangelicals have the revelation of salvation.
God did not save you just to get you into heaven. That wasn’t His purpose or plan. There was something that God desired from the very beginning and I really don’t think that we have gotten that basic understanding. We have preached the gospel (and I have been as guilty as everybody that preaches it) that, “You don’t want to go to hell. You don’t want to burn for eternity.” Hello! You go and read all these different tracts about hell and it is all true, yet all the while there is so much more that God desires. So, we get saved because we do not want to go to hell. Of course, you might not have done that, but I did. I can remember a Baptist camp up in the hills. We called it Genesis Park Baptist camp. I was 8 years old and we had this little brush arbor meeting. Do you know what a brush arbor meeting is? They had this preacher up there in the front and he was preaching hell fire and damnation. My goodness, was he ever preaching! You could smell the sulphur. I think maybe the fire that they had kindled behind him helped me. They had this big roaring, blazing fire and of course, he used that quite extensively in his message. Now, you take an eight-year-old little boy up into the mountains, out there all by himself without Mom and Dad, start talking about hell and all that sort of stuff, and it is going to scare him to death. It was not a bad scaring because it initialized me to begin to accept the Lord as my personal Savior. I could not wait to get down to the altar to get saved because I did not want to go to hell. Well, that is all right with God. If that’s how He got you saved, He still got you saved. But there was a purpose in why He saved me, but He did not want to leave me in that condition of ignorance. There was something more in God’s heart. I did not want to go to hell. I did not want to go to hell. I wanted to go to heaven. Nobody wants to go to hell. When I backslid as I was going through my teen-age years, there was always this nagging thought of hell. So I was very cognizant of the fact of hell and heaven, heaven and hell. It was always a fight between hell and heaven. Of course, I did not always want heaven because there was a lot of hell in me that had not yet been dealt with. There was a lot of hell in me that was preeminent. There was a lot of hell in me that was doing a lot of hellish things. That was my dilemma, because my knowledge of God and the plus and minus’s of eternity were not enough.
My theology was not enough to bring about the desired change. Why? Because I had not yet understood the why, of why He saved me. It took me so long. I don’t know, I must just be dumber than the rest of you. I must be more rebellious than the rest of you. IT TOOK ME SO LONG TO UNDERSTAND THAT GOD SAVED ME BECAUSE HE LOVED ME. That is the only reason why He saved me. I had all these grandiose ideas. I was happy. I had all of the personality. I had the charisma. My goodness, no. When they passed out charisma, I was in the back row.
God did not save me because He wanted me to be saved and out of hell. He saved me because He loved me. Not only did He save me because He loved me, but because He loved me, He had a plan and a purpose for me. He had a desire to see something manifested somewhere down the road beyond what that little eight-year-old boy had in the moment of that brush arbor meeting when he came to know the Lord. Salvation is not the insurance of fulfilling and coming to a position of completeness as far as the desire of God is concerned. But you know, I am not going to know anything about God, much less His desires, if all I want to do is get into heaven, because then my desire is in a place that is interfering with His desire because it is completely self orientated.
It is very interesting to me that in the Jewish culture a child was taught from the scriptures continually. The adults of the Israelite people were commanded to put little things upon their gowns and upon their foreheads. They were commanded to put the frontlet, which represented the Word of God, right between their eyes (Exodus 13:16). Wasn’t that right? Can you imagine how aggravating that would be? How would you like to have this little thingamabob right between your eyes?
Not everybody wears glasses. I think some of you wear contacts, but if I get a little something on the edge of my glasses, it just drives me nuts. I am always trying to keep my glasses clean and when they are not, it just irritates me. It is annoying. What would it be like if you had this little thing flapping around between your eyes? What if you were required to wear it? Yet there was something significant that was demonstrated by the man wearing that frontlet and suffering the aggravation and irritation of it so that he might demonstrate a point with regard to God and His desire for you.
It isn’t that God just desires to save you but there is something that God wants in your thoughts about Him. That is just something that is a means to an end, “by the way” or “because of.” It is that, for our sakes, there is the essential importance of Him being the central focus that you have concerning everything.
I was in the Czech Republic a while back and God began to give me a word and I was asked by one of the brothers there, “Was this a premeditated word?” “Well,” I said, “if you consider the last 35 years, I suppose you could call it premeditation. I suppose it is an accumulation of all those years, so, to some degree, I suppose it is premeditated on my part. Now, if you mean in the aspect of God, yes, it was premeditated because in the very beginning this is what God had in His desires.”
You can go and look in Exodus 28 when you have the opportunity. The little frontlet between the eyes represented the Word of God. They also had fringes on the borders of their garments (Numbers 15:38).
I was waking up one morning to the ongoing dealing of God, and I found myself having a conversation with the Lord and He said, “I have given you the key to perfection.” Now, some of you are going to misunderstand that but that is all right. I am just telling you what God told me. He said, “I have given you the key to perfection.” I knew that He was talking about loving the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind (Matthew 22:37). I said to God, “It cannot be that easy.” What a stupid remark, but that is what I said, anyway. I said, “God, it cannot be that easy.”
He said, “Easy?”
I said, “Yes. All I have to do is love You and I can be perfect?”
He said, “Yes.”
I said, “Well, what can stop me from loving You?”
He said, “Loving yourself.”
That was the end of the conversation and I found out that He was right. Isn’t that amazing? I can have the understanding, I can have the evidence and I can have the Word of God. I can have all the revelation of what I can be and what I am going to be. I can have all the words of prophecy spilled over me and hands laid on me. You can rebuke devils. You can lay hands on me. You can anoint me with oil. Just dump it all over me and still I must understand the ramifications of loving Him and loving myself. You know, the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22:39). I found out that we can sometimes use that as an excuse. But God knows that you cannot even love yourself the right way. Did you know that if you love God as you are supposed to love God, you really cannot even love yourself because self is such a despicable, despisable fellow? Paul said, For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing (Romans 7:18).
So, the first revelation that I have to come to in my loving of God is my inability to love because of my unloveableness. We need to go over the scripture to get our orientation right because we are not in the right place. We are not in the right order with regard to God.
When God says rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God, we are talking about an introspection (Joel 2:13). You know, it is very easy for me to inspect you. It is easy because I can see all of your faults. I can see all of what you do because a lot of what you do is what I would not do and I often measure you by me. That is not the right perspective. Some of us have the Holy Ghost and we think that it is for the purpose of ferreting out the infirmities that are in everybody else, the only exception to that activity is that we do not use it to recognize the infirmities that are in our own being. Our first malady and position of weakness is that we are standing in a position of self-adoration. God said in the beginning, Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3). Now, what do you think He was referring to? These little things made out of wood or gold? These little idols and things that people bow down to and all of that sort of stuff? Did you know that people go to idols because they want something? In some countries, if a woman wants a man she will go and present an offering to a certain idol, or if a man wants prosperity, he will go to a certain idol and he will present an offering or a sacrifice.
There is, for the most part, very little difference in how we view our position of Christianity as it pertains to some of these issues. God is not a God that just gives you things so that you might be blessed. That is not why God blesses you. God blesses you that you might know that in God there is blessing. It is not enough just to be blessed by God, but more important that God IS. I think that one of the reasons many men make mistakes and are led astray is because of the blessings that God has blessed them with and they do not understand the compassion and love that is in God’s heart for them. Their position of self-estimation is up there somewhere where it is not supposed to be. Why do you think that God said, thou shalt have no other gods before me? Why? He brought that verbally into existence because there had already been a word that had been spoken against it. There had already been a lie that had been perpetrated. There has always been a position of half-truth that was spawned by the devil in the garden. When the devil spoke to Eve, he said, ye shall be as gods (Genesis 3:5). Plural, I believe it is.
Femi, look that up for me, if you would, and see if that Hebrew word is plural. Ye shall be as gods. In the English it is plural, so it can also be collective. Can you imagine a bunch of little collective gods running around? Yet that is the condition of Christianity and we have it in every part of the present day church. It is not bad enough that we have it, but we have capitalized on it, striving, as it were, for a place of preeminence and authority. My God, may He have mercy upon us.
You know, man really can’t get along by himself. The first thing that happened when the Communists lost their stronghold in Europe was that many of these people that had been living together collectively began to separate and divide because they wanted their own position of autonomy. When we first went to Czechoslovakia, it was all one nation. After the fall of Communism they started to squabble and argue back and forth. The Czechs wanted their own place and the Slovakians wanted their own place. So they began to argue. Now they have Slovakia and they have the Czech Republic. You can go throughout all of Europe and find the same scenario. First there was Yugoslavia and now we have Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia. This all began with the philosophy, “Ye shall be as gods.”
You may not have the same opinion as I have, but I believe that everything that works in the natural is a demonstration of a spiritual principle. I believe that we have the natural because we have the spiritual. So, because of this spiritual position of domination and wars and gods and all the things that go along with it, it must be so in the natural arena. That is, by the way, why we have troubles in the home, also. It is because one wants to usurp another one’s position of authority and that the other one wants to usurp the other’s position of authority; it is all because of a principle of the words that were spoken back there in the very beginning that ye shall be as gods. That is why God said, Thou shalt have no other gods before me(Exodus 20:3). Self-adoration, self-orientation is diametrically opposed to the will of God.
So, here we have Christ resurrected from the dead, and here we have the disciples going fishing. But there is another situation in the Bible that goes along with this thought that I want to speak about to you this morning. It came to me this morning as I was sitting back there and we were singing the first song, “I was born to be Thy dwelling place, a home for the presence of the Lord.” You know, we say these things and I do not know that we really, really understand the ramifications or the implications. If I really believe that I was born to be the dwelling place of the Lord, then everything that I do would be overshadowed by that premise. I would do nothing, absolutely nothing, outside of that consideration if I really loved God the way that I am supposed to love Him.
Now, this goes back to loving God as He wants you to love Him. It is not that I can love Him that way in my naturalness, because I can’t, but He has given me the ability to love Him by virtue of the Blood of Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. Now, the Holy Ghost is not given to me just so that I can prophesy or preach, but that the Holy Ghost might lead me into what? All truth (John 16:13). Is that the truth about the sons of God, the truth about ruling and reigning, the truth about words of wisdom or truth about this and that? No, not as a main focus. The Holy Ghost was given to us that we might attain the truth about Him – Elohim! I was given the Holy Ghost for one thing and one thing only and it is that I might learn truth about Him. Well, I have use it for a lot of things; when I am financially strapped, I use the Holy Ghost to get money. Of course, you don’t. When I am sick and my body is hurting me, I use the Holy Ghost to get healing. Of course, you probably don’t do that. But really, that does not do much for my relationship with Him because the moment I am flush and the moment I am healed, I seem to forget that I really need anything else from God until the next occurrence.
Of course, I am not preaching to you. Really, I am not. It is more for my benefit and you are suffering because of me. You can use your body ministry this morning for I have found it to be so in my own experience. Your experience is probably different than mine, but I know that there is somebody here that I am talking to besides me and so you are suffering for them, too.
There is a nonchalant attitude that I get and I begin to take things for granted. Have you ever noticed how you take friends for granted? It seems that the longer you are friends, the more camaraderie you have and the more it seems that you begin to take them for granted. Sometimes we take husbands and wives for granted, too. My goodness. I believe that the homes are out of order because our relationship with God is out of order. Now, you have to ascertain if it is your problem or not. Do not get irritated with me; I am a lot like that little thing between your eyes, you know. The phylactery (Matthew 23:5). I believe it is because we do not love each other the way that we should love each other. We do not love each other the way that we should love each other because we do not love God the way we should. How do you expect your wife to love you if she does not love God? Of course, you could say, “The reason you don’t love me is because you don’t love God.” But you do not love her, otherwise you would never say, “You should go to God.” Oh my goodness. You know, it doesn’t take long for the veneer to rub off in marriage relationships. It is that little thin skin that is around the effervescence and the bubbles and the giddiness of the feeling. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time unless somebody is really working at loving God. Now, you can love each other to such an extent and leave God out of it, but then you have another problem because your love is not going to go in the direction that God wants it to go. It might grow, but it is going to stay within a realm of something that is of lesser value than what God has for you in your loving Him.
You see, I can’t love my wife with agape love unless I learn what agape is in loving God. Did you know that? Now, I can love God. I am not saying that I can’t love God. I can love God, but it is not the way that God wants me to love Him. It is not because He is an egomaniac that He has to have all the adoration, love and bowing down. “Oh yes, Lord. I love You, love You, love You.” That has nothing to do with it. It has everything to do with something that is in your heart that wants to please Him. Your heart wants to do something that pleases and blesses. You want to do something that lifts someone up and above and exalts them above your place of self worth.
That is what God is all about. Did you know that? God so loved the world that He condescended (John 3:16). He brought Himself down. Why? Just because He didn’t want you to go to hell? That is a side issue as far as God is concerned because God knows that if you love Him, you are not going to hell. So we are kind of guilty. God wants to create within us a heart that loves Him. Loves Him! LOVES HIM. Not loves ourselves.
There are some families that are very united, but in their love for each other, there are several places where their love is lacking. There are a lot of homes, a lot of marriages where the people love each other. They have expanded. They have grown. They have gone beyond the external position and all of the physical aspects of being married. They have gone beyond that, but because they do not love God in the way that they are supposed to love God, they cannot love or come to a place of completeness and fulfillment in how God wants them to manifest Him.
Here is what it is all about. God wants you to manifest Him more than you want to manifest yourself, but we want our way. We want our way. Let somebody step on your toes, crowd your space and we can be as pugnacious as the early Americans were when fighting the British and have as our ensign a flag that says, “Don’t tread on me.” (http://www.gadsden.info/history.html) Some of us have the same flag. Most of us have the same flag flying over our ship. “This is my territorial position. This is my territorial right.”
I thank God for what He has done by teaching me what it is to at least think about loving Him. I can’t get beyond my experience. I am so thankful to God. At the time I went through it, I thought that the things that were happening in my situation were thoroughly unjust. I thought it was totally out of context with what I wanted to do as far as God was concerned. Yet He allowed me to be put me into situations that were terribly, terribly unlovable and the people in them were totally, totally self centered and yet He put me in those situations to teach me something about loving Him and those around me more than I loved myself and to create within me a heart that would love Him.
You know, I take personally the admonition to Peter. Jesus said, But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren(Luke 22:32). Oh, my goodness. I do not know how instantaneous Peter’s conversion was, but whatever it might have been, I wish mine would have been half that short and then I could be farther along the line in God.
The question Jesus asked was, “Peter, do you love Me more than these?” (John 21:15). You know, Peter was a fisherman. He loved it. You know, I am a carpenter; I love carpentry. I do. I love it, love it, love it. You just give me a hammer, you give me a nail, you give me a board and I am like those little kids out there. I can do it all the time, all day long. I love it, but if it isn’t fulfilling what God wants me to do, then I cannot do it no matter how much I love it. It is not what God wants me to do or not do. It is something that God knows if I do it, then I will be like Him. There is a difference between doing something because you have to do it and you do not want the ramifications of not doing it, and doing it because you really want to please. You really want to bring some sort of satisfaction and exaltation, not to yourself, but to the individual that you are in love with. Love is something that goes beyond the human capacity to understand, for we are always insisting upon our own right, our own way.
You know, there was a word that the Lord gave me for a couple of years on the design, form and purpose. Now I believe He is giving me the mechanics of how to get into that position. First, we have to understand that this God Who is magnificent, wonderful, Elohim, this Lord, this Adoni, thisEl Shaddai, all these names that He is called by, has a plan and a purpose. It is not only that He might be exalted and we would lay down prostrate before Him, but that there would be something in our souls that really loves Him in the way that He loves us.
The Bible says that if you have two coats, take one off and give it to someone who does not have one (Luke 3:11). Why? Why would you do that? Because the Bible says to? Some of us might do it because the Bible says it. Some of us tithe and some of us even give 20, 30, 40 or 50 percent. Some people give 100 percent, yet some of us that are giving are not giving with the right motivation.
You see, if I love God the way that God wants me to love Him, I am going to love Him like He loves me. If I love Him like He loves me, then I am going to love you like He loves me and wants me to love Him. I am going to love you and I am going to want you to be better than me. I am not going to exalt my position at your expense.
You know, a mother’s love is sometimes very close to agape love. Very close. There will be food on the table. There is not enough food and the mother will starve herself to feed her children. I have read books about it. I have seen families in different countries where the mother is always giving the major portion of her food to her children because there is not enough food to sustain all of them and she wants her children to survive in place of her. She gives no thought to the fact that she is emaciated. She gives no thought to the fact that her strength is dwindling. She gives no thought to the fact that one day she may not wake up and the children will have no mother at all. All she thinks about at that moment is the substantiation of life that is in the children and she gives and she gives and she gives and she gives and she gives and she gives until she is all given out.
That is the way God loves us. That is why they call him El Shaddai. Do you know what El Shaddai means? The big breasted God. It is an illustration of a woman nursing her child. My goodness. That is how we are supposed to love each other, did you know that? We are to learn to love each other, first of all, in the home. I have always contended that the church is in trouble because the home is in trouble. The home is in trouble because the individuals in the home have not learned how they are supposed to love God.
You know, when I was growing up hearing this word, we were supposed to wait upon our ministries. My goodness. You are telling a 22 year old boy that he is supposed to wait upon his ministry? It is like me telling my two year old son that he is supposed to wait upon his profession. It makes no sense. You are not supposed to wait upon your ministry but rather you are to wait upon the Lord. How many of you have thought, “What am I supposed to do? What is my ministry? Where can I minister? How shall I be a ministry? What is it that You want me to do? Be a missionary? Go to China? Do you want me to be a millionaire and give 99.99 hundred thousand dollars to the work of God?” The Bible says that if I do not love Him, it is of no value. That is what Corinthians says. If I do not love Him, it is of no value. Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (agape), it profiteth me nothing (I Corinthians 13:3). Love Him! Not as I think I should love Him. Do you know that it has nothing to do with your perspective? Absolutely nothing. It has everything to do with His perspective
You know what? I am always coming up on the short end of the stick because, quite frankly, I don’t think that I am able to comprehend the totality of my weaknesses. So, I have to take the position that Paul took. Not because Paul was an apostle or had a revelation of things to come. Not because Paul started all of those churches in Asia. Can you imagine the position of defeat and destruction of Paul as he sat in a cell and penned, all they which are in Asia be turned away from me? (II Timothy 1:15). Where was his comfort? Where was his hope? It wasn’t in the churches in Asia.
He went on to say, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness(II Timothy 4:8). A crown of authority? No, no, no. This is the same man who wrote that if we want to reign with Him we must suffer with Him (II Timothy 2:12). He had an absolute driving force of love for a relationship with a living God. With every great man of God, the reason they could do what they did was because they had an insatiable, unsatisfiable appetite for God. Hallelujah.
In John 11 we have the story of Lazarus. You all know it very well and, again, I think it is indicative of the time frame in which we are now living. It says that Lazarus was in the grave four days. From the time that Genesis 1 was made to the advent of Christ was 4000 years. From the time of Christ till the advent of the body of Christ would be another two thousand years. I think it is indicative of the time frame in thousand year increments and it is pin pointing the time that we are coming into as far as the millennium is concerned. It says that Lazarus was in his grave for 4 days and the thought of the church was, “Lord, by this time he stinketh” (John 11:39). I think we look upon situations and circumstances instead of upon Him. God had Jesus’ eye fixed upon the Father, not upon Lazarus, nor upon the fact that she was probably, absolutely right. Did you know that some of us stink? Some of the situations we are in are stinky situations. My mother used to say, “Burt, you are a stinker.” Mom was quite prophetic.
How does God look at our situation? How does God view our set of circumstances? How does God view our over-exalted opinion of ourselves? I think it must be something of a stinky situation. I think it is a situation of decay and mortification. You know, when Jesus was there on the beach, He could have ripped those boys up one side and down the other for their position of unbelief and everything that was going on and He could have said, “How is it that you could go fishing after the last week and a half or two weeks or 20 days or 40 days? How could you be out here fishing?” He didn’t.
Peter girded himself up, put his clothes on, jumped over the side of the boat, not yet perceiving or understanding the thing that God was really after. It is somewhat reminiscent of Moses and the burning bush. You know, I still think it had something to do with preeminence and wanting to be first on the beach. He wanted to be the first to kneel down at the feet of the Master, wanting to be the first to have the commendation, wanting to be the first to have the blessing, wanting to be the first to demonstrate his adoration outwardly and God reached out and He touched the man right in his soul. He put His finger right on him. Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? Hmm? Feed my sheep (John 21:15-16).
How would you feel? How would you feel if there was somebody that you had financially supported… You made sure that they had a good house, good clothes and a good education. You made sure that they had all the accoutrements of life. Then you went off to a far country and when you came back, you telephoned them and told them that you were coming to visit and you got a recording telling you that they were gone. Yet they had known that you were coming because you had previously told them. YOU TOLD THEM THAT YOU WERE COMING! But you get a recording, “Oh, I am sorry but we are not here. We have gone off to Tahiti. We are on the beach. My cell phone number is blah, blah, blah. I have international roaming. You can reach me.” Of what value is that? What would you think? What would be your reaction? Well, I know what my reaction would be. Of course, you would probably react differently. “How could they do this to me? After all I have done for them. I did this and I did that. They knew I was coming. They knew I was coming and they went off and they did all of that. How could they go fishing?” He quietly kindled the fire and put the fish on there to broil. Do we understand the reason?
Going back to Lazarus, we have a man who was in the grave for four days and our attitude is a lot like Martha and Mary’s. “Oh, Jesus, if You could have been here. Oh, Jesus, if You would have been here. If You would have been here”(John11:21,32). The thing that is most striking to me and the point that I really want us to think about is what Jesus did when he went up to the grave. The Word tells us that Jesus wept(John 11:35). Why did He weep? He wept because of the hardness of their heart and their position of unbelief. What do you think is in the heart of Jesus when He looks upon the church at this hour? Do you think He feels wrath or malice? Do you think He feels vindictive or judgmental? Absolutely not. I think He feels grief and hurt because there is something in His heart that He knows that if you would just do what you are supposed to do, it would be the very best thing that could ever happen to you. Yet, when we are put into a situation, we grumble and we complain. “Oh, my goodness. I can’t understand how it is!”
Have you ever thought about the spirit of complaint? The Bible says the little foxes spoil the vine (Song of Solomon 2:15). There is a spirit of complaint – complain, complain, complain, complain, complain. Complain about this. Complain about that. Complain about him. The world situation! The political situation! The wife situation! The husband situation! The children do not love us the way they should! Complain. Complain. Complain. Complain. Complain. Complain. It comes down like a blanket over your environment. It comes down into your arena of living and begins to suffocate the life out of you so that the breath of God can no longer breathe into your nostrils and the life of the resurrection power of Jesus Christ can no longer come forth out of the midst of your tribulation to bring forth a revelation of resurrection. It starts with a little complaint. Do you know where the worst place of transgression is? It is in the bedrooms of husbands and wives as they begin to discuss all of the issues of the day and the weeks and the people and the things that have been done and the things that were not right. Complain. Complain. Complain. Little foxes. Little foxes destroying. They rip the fruit off the bottom of the cluster of grapes which makes the grapes of no value because they get disease and begin to deteriorate, to stink and ferment and become absolutely useless for anything. Why? It is because we do not love God. We do not love God.
It is more than understanding that we have to love God. There has to be a position of sacrificial giving in the midst of a relationship that demonstrates a reality that we love God.
For God so loved the world… He so loved the world (John 3:16). My God. He loved me. I was despicable. I was dirty. The Word says, “I found you in your blood” (Ezekiel 16:6). I was dirty and despicable. How many times did I use His name in an offensive manner? How many times did I do things that totally, absolutely degraded me as well as Him? How many times have I thought thoughts and looked or listened and subjected myself to a condition that was not pleasing to Him? I can hardly imagine the immeasurable sense of pain and the frustration that comes because we did not do the very best that we could do that would be the very best for Him. Why? Because we did not love Him. We loved ourselves.
You know, I personally believe, when I have an altercation with another personality that the first place to look is in the mirror. I am not talking about looking in the mirror to see my reflection; I am talking about looking into the mirror that is God. I want to tell you something; if I see God, it is going to reveal me. If it reveals me, I am going to have to repent. I can’t look at God without repenting. It does not matter how right I was or how justified I was; I am always wrong. I am always wrong.
You know, loving God takes a lot of effort. You can say, “I am going to love You, God. I am going to make up my mind. I am going to love You.” I guarantee that if you are really sincere, you will not get out the door without self popping up and hitting you right between the eyes with some spiritual altercation. Why? Because the devil has to stop you. The destruction of the devil is not in me laying hands upon him and giving him the boot. The destruction of the kingdom of hell and all of its shenanigans and demons and devils is not in the power or the strength of the Holy Ghost or the Blood of Jesus Christ that I have. It is in using all of those things to love God.
If I love God, then I can destroy the works of the devil. I know that because the Bible teaches it. It says in John 1:5, And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. It could not grasp hold; it could not destroy it. If that is not enough, John 3:19 says, And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. They love self, brother. Why? …because their deeds were evil. 20For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. It is not just a matter of having truth. It is a matter of loving the truth as an entity, as a person. It is loving Him. Loving Him. Loving Him. LOVING HIM. But you don’t love Him. You want to love somebody else more than you want to love God, and that is because you love yourself even more.
The secret is loving God with all of your heart, with all of your strength, with all of your might, with all of your soul. You must be totally, absolutely immersed in your desire to love Him, love Him, love Him, love Him. But if you believe it, it puts a terrible onus upon you because it means that you are going to have to demonstrate your profession of love for Him. I John 4:20 says, If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? To love you, I have to love God; I have to love Him in such a way that I can love you, and then I can love you when you are unlovable. I am unlovable every day, and I have to love you in the way that God first loved me. God bless you.