Heaven on Earth - by Stephanie M. White

Jesus is the Gift That Keeps On Giving

John 1:16 AMP  
For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share & we were all supplied with] one grace after another & spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing & even favor upon favor & gift [heaped] upon gift.

Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving!  Out of His fullness or completeness we can receive blessing after blessing. 
It is important for us to realize that even though we have been supplied with all of the grace, favor & blessing we need, we have to receive it – just like any gift. 
Psa 106:24-25 AMP  
Then they spurned & despised the pleasant & desirable land [Canaan]; they believed not His word [neither trusting in, relying on, nor holding to it]; but they murmured in their tents & hearkened not to the voice of the Lord.

Spurning & despising mean to cast off or refuse.   The Israelites doubted God’s promise regarding the promised land thereby refusing the promise.  How many Christians are rejecting the promises God has made because they do not believe the Word?

Gal 5:2 AMP  
…Christ will be of no profit (advantage, avail) to you [for if you distrust Him, you can gain nothing from Him].

Faith brings promises to pass; faith that comes from the Word! Our doubt = our refusal of receiving the promise!

Too many Christians are believing their situation over the Word!  We add our take on things & our take includes our doubt & unbelief (usually because of our circumstances).  God wanted to provide the Israelites with everything - when they didn’t see it as fast as they wanted to, doubt kicked in.  Can we relate?!

Psa 106:13 AMP  
But they hastily forgot His works; they did not [earnestly] wait for His plans [to develop] regarding them.

We hear of God’s promises & we experience blessings along the way to those promises in the same way the Israelites did.  Unfortunately, many times, we forget about those blessings along the way like they did & we grow weary of waiting.  Forgetting how blessed you truly are & all God has done for you inhibits faith. 

The Bible tells us that faith & patience bring about the promises.  Patience is not always a joy ride - but it is worth the trip; too many Christians turn back!  The Israelites were promised this land & they believed it was theirs until they encountered some trials along the way.  They began to reject the very thing God promised, just like many Christians today.  We reject the idea of being blessed physically since sickness is so prevalent.  We cast off being debt free because everyone has bills.  We refuse the promise of ruling & reigning in this life because living “one down under” has just been our way of life... & so on!

Because they refused to believe, they murmured.  Those who refuse God’s promises murmur against God or murmur against those who do, in fact, accept God’s promises.   

James 4:1-2 AMP  
What leads to strife (discord & feuds) & how do conflicts (quarrels & fightings) originate among you?...You are jealous & covet [what others have] & your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy & anger & are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, & the happiness that you seek], so you fight & war. You do not have, because you do not ask.

Feuds arise between those who believe God’s Word wholeheartedly & those who don’t because some Christians have decided it would be better to not expect too much from God even though He tells us to boldly ask!  We need to remember, He made the promises; they are HIS idea!  He’ s longing to be good to us!  He WANTS us to receive the promises!

John 16:24 NIV  
Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask & you will receive, & your joy will be complete.

Receiving His promises makes our joy complete –- what else do we know about joy?

Psalms 16:11 NIV  
You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence…

Joy is found in His presence & joy is made complete when I receive; therefore, receiving & being in His presence are one in the same. 

It is time for God’s children to read the Word of God & find out just exactly what He has promised us!

1 Chron 16:15 KJV  
Be ye mindful always of His covenant; the word [which] He commanded to a thousand generations.
-His covenant is His Word or His promises & we’re to be mindful of it.  Meditate on what’s yours in the Word of God.  Faith comes from hearing the Word & faith will make those promises a reality!

Don’t give up on ANY of the promises God has made in His Word!  He is not a man that He should lie!  He is NOT limited by circumstances!  And it doesn’t matter if you are the only one who believes!

Rom 3:3-4 AMP, KJV  
What if some did not believe & were without faith? Does their lack of faith & their faithlessness nullify & make ineffective & void the faithfulness of God & His fidelity [to His Word]?  God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar…

You don’t need any man to get on board with you!  All you need is the Word of God!  God has made radical promises – abide in His Word & experience the gift that keeps on giving!


Micah 7:7-8 NLT 
As for me, I look to the LORD for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.  Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.
"As for me," denotes choice.  We can let our circumstances get the best of us or we can choose to look to God.  The Bible tells us that God works all things together for our good, so we can let our trials sharpen our focus instead of giving them the power to bring us down.  For every problem we encounter, God has a promise.  We can choose to focus on His promise rather than our problem; and as we do, our attitude will change.  No longer will we feel like a helpless victim; on the contrary, we will declare our victory in Jesus' name and we'll be excited about all that God has in store. 

Our perception makes all the difference.  How do we see the trials we face?  How do we view ourselves amid these afflictions?  How do we see our Heavenly Father?  Do we see God as a loving Father who certainly hears us or do we doubt that He even cares?  We need to look at life based on the truth of the Word.  Our God loves us and He cares about everything we face.  The trials we encounter are opportunities for God to display His power in our lives because we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us so!  View things God's way.  You may be down now, but you will rise again!


John 11:1, 3 (NIV)  
Now a man named Lazarus was sick…So the sisters sent word to Jesus, 
"Lord, the one You love is sick."
This verse says so much in so few words.  Two sisters were calling on Jesus to help their brother and all they said was, "Lord, the one You love is sick."  They did not beg Jesus to heal him; they did not list all of the reasons Jesus should heal him; they didn't scream and shout.  They simply told Jesus that the one He loved needed Him. 
Do we understand how much He loves us?  Do we go to prayer as
"the one He loves," or do we go as a beggar desperately seeking help?  When you know someone loves you, you can go to them without fear or doubt.  Some days it seems hard to believe that God loves us, but He does!  We need to fill ourselves with verses that declare His love for us so that faith will be produced in that area.  We let others tell us that they love us daily - we need to let God do the same. 
Go to God based on His love for you.  He helps us because He loves us!
Romans 8:37 ESV  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Christ loves you!  He loves you so much that He wants to make you more than a conqueror.  He wants you to be triumphantly victorious!  Do you believe that?  Faith works by love (Galatians 5:6); God's love for us is the foundation every promise is based on so surround yourself with His love for you and receive from Him.  

Begin & End

Galatians 3:1-3 NIV
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

Our lives in Christ begin with faith and they must end with faith – and everything in-between must be done by faith.

We begin our lives in Christ by receiving the free gift God has given us.  We receive His payment for our sins.  We do this by faith – we hear what the Word has to say and faith is produced.  That faith then leads to the action of receiving. 

How many of us have no problem believing that we are saved by the work Christ has done for us, but when it comes to every-day life we ignore what Christ has done for us.  Instead of depending on Christ, we continue to depend on ourselves. 

Human effort will never accomplish the Spiritual.  We cannot produce Spiritual fruit in our flesh.  Our goal should be to mature in Christ and that only happens as we continually focus on the Word of God. 

We are foolish when we believe we can do anything Spiritual on our own.  One of the definitions of foolish is “sensual;” foolishness is of the flesh.  Foolishness is dependence on man rather than on God.  We must begin and end focusing on Jesus Christ.

Our Spiritual lives cannot be realized outside of Christ.  He authored our faith and He will complete it (Hebrews 12:2).

To Post or Not to Post?
that is today's question!

Proverbs 25:17 NIV
Seldom set foot in your neighbor's house— too much of you, and they will hate you.
Today's world brings us all together - or does it?  The internet has made it easy to reach out and touch someone, but in what way are we affecting the people we are reaching?  In this world of numerous social media outlets, we are stepping foot in our neighbor's house daily - sometimes several times a day.  We are no longer simply sharing cute photos and encouraging words occasionally with friends and family, but now we are airing all of our opinions as well - and we are doing so with whoever cares to listen.  We are getting too much of each other and hate is ensuing. 

Many share their political views instead of refraining and voting in private.  Fake news stories are created to spark controversy and we no longer feel a need to check our sources.  We used to have disagreements with others behind closed doors, but now they are boldly posted for all to see.  Opinions are given on a variety of subjects even though many times they should be kept to ourselves.  My opinion is just that - mine - and although it is permissible for me to share my opinion, it is often not profitable.  To post or not to post?  That, I believe, is today's question.  A question that can be answered in the book of Ephesians (4:29).  Is what you are posting helpful for building others up according to their needs?  God has given us His plan for peace and harmony and it is found in considering others before self and avoiding officiousness.  

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Tis the Season to 

Exodus 23:16 NIV
Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.
Celebrate!  Celebrate God’s goodness in your life!  Celebrate the harvest His Word produces in your life!  Celebrate all that you are blessed with!
            God has blessed us in so many ways and there are too many times that we fail to remember to celebrate His goodness.  We can even overlook His goodness when we allow our minds to focus on the things that appear to be negative in our lives.  What are you focused on?  Are you focused on your problem or God's promise concerning the problem?  Focus matters!

Celebrating is an important part of life.  Too many times celebrating gets put on the back burner.  We get entangled in the day-to-day and we endure life instead of celebrating it! 
How can we incorporate celebrating into our lives?  We can set time aside on purpose.  We make our schedules; we choose what to do with our time.  It is true that we make time for what we deem as important – we need to see celebrating as important.   

            David knew how good God was and he wasn’t afraid to celebrate (2 Samuel 6:21; Psalms 145:7).  Are we?  We need to abide in His goodness; we need to focus on the Word of God that declares all that God has done for us and celebrate.  He has made us righteous in Christ – that is something that should keep us celebrating for life!

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The Price of Freedom 

Luke 4:18 
The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners & recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed…

*freedom isn't free – but it is paid for!  Jesus Christ came to set us free; He came to release us!  He was the price that needed to be paid. 

freedom:  pardon, deliverance, forgiveness, liberty, remission.
*we have been pardoned thanks to Jesus Christ & the price He paid with His life.  God sent Him to proclaim this message to us & He is still proclaiming it to this day through His Word.  Are we listening?

Gal 5:1  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

*Jesus Christ did not give His life to set you free just so you could live a life in bondage!   Christ set you free so that you could live in freedom!  Are you?  Or are you living a life in bondage?  Bondage to others & their opinions, bondage to sin, bondage to wrong thoughts, & the list can go on.  Anything that burdens us is something we are in bondage to.  Since Jesus died to set us free, let’s find out how we can live in that freedom!

Psalms 119:45 AMP  And I will walk at liberty & at ease, for I have sought & inquired for [& desperately required] Your precepts.

*walking or living in freedom is the result of making the Word of God your most desperate necessity.  
The Word of God leads you into a life that is free!  Bondage has no entrance into a person’s life when the Word is preeminent. 
*seeking the Word means you are frequently in the Word; you seek the Word because you are a worshipper.  A worshipper is a person who receives the ministration of  God.  They are cared for by God, nursed by God, and supported by God.  

*a worshipper desperately requires the Word; they refuse to live without it!  They do whatever they have to do in order to get as much of the Word in their life as possible – they listen to the Word on CD, they read the Word, they think about the Word & so on! 
*the Word cannot be on the back-burner in your life if you want to live a life of freedom!
*living a life of freedom brings glory to God! 

Jer 34:17  Therefore, this is what the LORD says: You have not obeyed Me; you have not proclaimed freedom for your fellow countrymen. So I now proclaim 'freedom' for you, declares the LORD--"freedom' to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth.

*are we proclaiming freedom or are we encouraging bondage?  Too many times we encourage the bondage! 
*when we promote fear we are encouraging bondage!  Any time we suggest that we need to be afraid of God we are bringing people into bondage if they do not know better!
*too many people use fear as a method for getting people to stay away from sin. God’s Word never tells us that fear will promote Spiritual behavior – only faith will!  And faith is the opposite of fear! 
*people encourage bondage when they put other people down. 

*people encourage bondage when they suggest we must live by the law. The Word clearly tells us that attempting to live by the law curses us (Gal. 3:10)! 
 *the list can go on & on!  We must proclaim freedom in Christ!!

1 Cor 15:58  Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

*stand firm in the freedom Christ has given you!  Do not allow  anything to move you – not your feelings, your thoughts, what others say or do – nothing!
*do what you do through Christ!  Any labor that is not done in the Lord is worthless!  Do not fall for the lies & live in fear!  Fear keeps us away from God & then our labor is in vain!  We must understand that anything we do outside of Christ is of no Spiritual value! 

Rom 8:20-21  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay & brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

*the children of God are meant to live in glorious freedom!!  Praise God!
*it may seem odd that frustration leads us to this glorious freedom but it does!  The frustration is the frustration of our flesh.  If you read the verses prior you will find Paul discussing the fight between the Spirit & the flesh & the frustration it produces.  We must recognize that this fight only highlights our desperate need for Christ.  Realizing your desperate need for Christ is then what brings you into that place of freedom!  Understanding your desperation brings you to that place we saw in Psalms 119:45 – we seek, inquire for, & desperately require the Word because we understand who we really are without Christ! 

*God’s plan is for us to live in glorious freedom – are you in agreement with that plan?!

Acts 16:25 NLT 
Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.
Midnight is a dark time, but it's also the beginning of a new day.  Midnight is often portrayed as a time of trial or season of adversity, but we can also see it as the beginning of something new. How we choose to see things is imperative.
Things didn't look promising for Paul and Silas and they may not look promising for you, either, but we don't have to live by what we physically see. 
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLT  For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
We must learn to focus on God's promises rather than the trial.  What we fill ourselves with will become apparent.  Paul and Silas were able to pray and sing because they weren't focused on their current situation; they filled themselves with God's promises and praise was a result.  They were looking ahead to God's final verdict for their situation instead of dwelling on the present problem.  We can learn much from this. 

The trial you are now facing has an expiration date.  God has a good plan for you and He is at work right now even if you cannot see it.  Abide in His Word; receive His joy and peace today.  You're about to experience a new beginning!   

A New Nature

John 3:3-6 KJV
Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus saith unto him, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
That which is born of flesh is flesh; that which is born of Spirit is Spirit.  What was Jesus articulating?  Why did Jesus say we have to be born again?  Being born again is a fundamental precept that we must understand.  Jesus tells us that we must be born again because the first time we were born it was simply a birth of the flesh; it was not Spiritual.  If we desire to see the kingdom of God, then we must be born again – something Spiritual must take place. 

That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit; there are two natures in every born-again believer – two natures that must be recognized and understood.  Once you receive Christ as your personal Lord and Savior the Bible then refers to you as being born again.  Something new has taken place; something new is given life in you.  Our new nature is our Spiritual nature; it’s perfect because of Christ.  When we received Christ He gave us the gift of His Spirit.  We now have Christ in us – this means that we can now do what He would do.  We will become more and more like Christ as we feed our new nature.  The Word of God is the fuel for this nature.  We’ll operate in our Spiritual nature when we abide in God’s Word.  We must fill ourselves with the Word if we want to walk in our new Spiritual nature.  

Let It Grow
James 1:2-4 (NLT)
…when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Trouble is generally not considered as an opportunity for great joy, but that is just what God tells us to consider it.  This doesn't make any sense to our carnal mind, but Spiritually it makes all the sense in the world.  We must see things Spiritually if we want to see our trials as God does. 

Spiritually, trials present us with the prospect of growth and development.  Moses told the children of Israel that their enemies were bread for them (Numbers 14:9 KJV); they were an opportunity to nourish themselves and the same is true for us.  The trials we face should lead us to feed on the promises of God.  They should encourage us to abide in His love and care for us; they should encourage us to go to the Word for the help we need.  As we do this, we will find ourselves nourished Spiritually and we will find the joy that abides in His presence. 

Trials also teach us endurance or patience.  They teach us to stay cheerful and hopeful as long as we remain focused on the promises of God.  Faith and patience go hand-in-hand, and they bring God's promises to fruition in our lives.  As long as we abide in the Word and remain focused on God's promises (rather than our situation) we will grow Spiritually - so let it grow!  


Romans 10:17 (NIV)
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Faith, just like everything else, has an origin; faith’s origin is the Word of God.  Too many Christians are trying to manufacture faith outside of the Word.  

Faith is not something we decide to possess.  Living, Spiritual faith is a result; it is not a decision.  It is the outcome of abiding in the Word of God. 

You can test yourself and prove if you have Spiritual faith by asking yourself one simple question, “What verses do I have to back up what I say I believe?”  If you cannot provide verses that support what you say you believe, then you do not have Spiritual faith.  You need the Word if you desire Spiritual faith: faith that will move the mountains in your life! 

The sole source of faith is the Word of God.  Faith is not based on you, your circumstances, your “good deeds”, or others; genuine, Biblical faith is exclusively founded on the Word of God.  Fundamentally, you must be in agreement with the fact that you cannot acquire faith without the Word of God.  You will have to remain focused on the Word of God, as opposed to your circumstances, if you are going to live by faith.  Fixing your eyes on the unseen requires a steady diet of the Word of God. 

The Center of His Love
Jude 1:21 MSG
…staying right at the center of God's love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!
As Christians, we are instructed to keep ourselves at the center of God’s love.  What does this mean?  This means that we need to continually remind ourselves of God’s love for us. 

How do we do this?  We do this by focusing on God’s Word and what He has to say about how much He loves us.  Life will give us many opportunities to doubt God’s love for us.  In this world we deal with man’s free-will, sin, and hatred.  Christ is the answer to these devastating things.  The world’s hatred can be conquered if we will simply stay at the center of God’s love for us. 

We must take the time to remind ourselves of His love daily.   We must take the time to find verses that speak of His love for us and we must repetitively study these verses.  Write down a few of your favorite verses that declare God’s love for you and read them every day.  Memorize these verses, focus on them, and speak them. 

Keeping ourselves at the center of God’s love will also keep us in anticipation regarding God’s goodness and the blessings He has in store for us.  As we become intimately acquainted with God’s love we will also expect Him to do everything else that He promised us in His Word – and this is the real life!  Life lived through Christ is unrivaled!


Listen then to what
the parable of the sower means: 
When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.
The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.
But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
*the Seed is the Word of God – whether or not the Seed takes root is dependent upon hearing and understanding. 
*hearing is the Hebrew word shama - to hear; to take in and make part of who you are - and understanding is connecting with Christ.  We must take the Word in connected with Christ.  We must read as a dearly loved child of God; read according to who you are in Christ. 
*if we do not understand the Word – if we do not make that connection with Christ – the Word is snatched from us.  When we read disconnected from Christ we are reading in the flesh and nothing in the flesh is of lasting, Spiritual value.
*some hear the Word and are quick to proclaim their faith – but living faith takes time.  It takes time for a root to develop. 
John 8:31-32 AMP  So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples.  And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.
*we must ABIDE in the Word if we are going to be set free by the truth. 
abide: properly to sit down; to dwell, to remain; to settle, to marry: -  
(make to) abide (-ing), continue, (cause to, make to) dwell (-ing), ease self, endure, establish, habitation, (bring again to) place, tarry.
*here we see a beautiful picture of connection with Christ.
*a disciple is a student of the Word – a student is a person who studies.   
study: learn about; to discover facts about – investigate.  To research; to look at and consider.   
*a disciple is not casual with the Word – they have an intimate relationship with the Word and it shows in their everyday life. 
*this relationship and connection take time to develop – just like roots. 
*the Seed of the Word must take root in our lives.  We need roots!
*roots perform 4 major functions in the natural:
1. absorption of water and nutrients
2. anchoring / support
3. storage of food and nutrients
4. vegetative reproduction
*we can see this is in the spiritual, too.   
*if we do not absorb and take in what we are reading we will not have support.  It is our repeated intake of the Word as a dearly loved child of God that develops roots.  Roots take time!  The more we take the Word in, the more Word is stored up in us; and, as the Word is stored up in us, Spiritual fruit is produced in our lives. 
*roots may not always be seen, but their result is always seen! 
*a trees longest branch is only as long as its longest root.  What is seen above ground depends on what is taking place below ground. 
Mark 4:22  For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.
*the Word that is being hid in our heart is meant to be revealed in our lives!
*roots depend on the seed.  What kind of seeds are you planting in your life?  Is your seed that of the Word or of the flesh?
Romans 11:16, 18  If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches…do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
*if we plant the Seed of the Word as a dearly loved child of God, then we will have a holy root – the Holy Root is Jesus Christ. 
Galatians 6:8 AMP  For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
*sowing to the Spirit is sowing the Word of God; and, the Word of God will produce fruit of eternal value or Spiritual fruit. 
*sowing Spiritually is sowing based on Jesus Christ. 
Philippians 1:11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God.
*only through Christ can we develop Spiritually. We need to be rooted in Christ.

1 John 5:3 KJV
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.
The love OF God is that we keep His commandments – not love FOR God. 

The love of God is displayed in our ability to keep God’s Word; He enables us to keep His word because He loves us.  The word “keep” means to focus on, to keep your eyes on, and to hedge about as with thorns.  God loves us so much that He gives us the ability to focus on His Word.  He gives us His Spirit so we can understand and connect with His Word.

Don't misunderstand this verse and believe that if you love God you'll do no wrong.  If you do, you'll be confused; you may even begin to doubt your salvation because the focus is on self rather than God.

Peter believed that he loved Christ enough, but Peter was met with the truth when he denied Christ three times.  Jesus warned him that he would deny Him, but Peter didn't budge.  He repeatedly declared his love for Christ instead of crying out to Him for the help he needed.  We must understand that nothing good dwells in our flesh; we're desperate for Christ – we cannot even love Him apart from Him. 

The love of God provides us with everything we need to participate in our  Spiritual nature.  God loves us so much that He gives of Himself – we have His Spirit, we have His Word. 

The Word is meant to be our place of rest; we're supposed to abide in it and rely on God to do His work in our lives.  This is the love of God.

John and Peter 
 A Tale of Two Disciples

*John and Peter were disciples of Jesus.  When they walked with Christ during His earthly ministry, they were polar opposites!
*Peter was all about what he would do for Christ; John was all about what Christ did for him.  John was humble; Peter had bouts with pride.  John rested in Christ; Peter was always at work.  Peter was always proclaiming his love for God; John was always proclaiming God’s love for him!  Peter was boisterous and loud; John was restful and quiet. 
*John was humble – as we read the book of John, we see that he refers to himself in the third person – he didn’t even want to mention his own name. 

John 21:2 NIV  Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.           

*John was one of the “two other disciples.” 
*John did not want the focus to be on him.
*when John speaks about himself, he declares God’s love for him as his identity.

John 13:23  One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.

*John was conscious of the love Christ had for him!  It was the focus of his life.

1 John 3:1  How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!...

*John was mindful of God’s love for him - he based his identity on that love and he wrote extensively about that love.  Over and over he referred to himself as the disciple Jesus loved.  He didn't boast of his love for God; He boasted of God’s love for him!   He is a perfect example of keeping yourself at the center of God’s love.

*is God’s love for you your identity?

*as John focused on Christ’s love for him, we find that John was at rest!!
*notice where rest takes place – NEXT TO CHRIST!  
*we also see this in the story of Mary and Martha:
Mary was at Jesus’ feet and she was at rest.  Martha was in another room and she was working under stress.
*John was at rest.  John was focused on Christ’s love for him!

*rest and abiding in the love of God go hand-in-hand. 
*in 1 John 3:3, John declares that the Word of God is not burdensome.  John knew the Word as his resting place.  We can rest in Christ; we can live a life of rest rather than turmoil if we focus on God’s love for us instead of our love for Him!
*and when we focus on God’s love for us, we become more loving ~ circle of love:
We receive Christ’s love and then we express love to God and others.

1 John 4:11 KJV  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

IF = forasmuch as

OUGHT = through the idea of accruing, we are bound to love. 

*the more we accrue (accumulate) the love of God, the more we love others.  We are bound to love – it is part of who we are in Christ!  It won’t be a burden to love – it will come naturally. 
*Unlike John, Peter referred to his love for God and took pride in what he thought he would do for God.  He had a problem with focusing on himself and bragging. 

Mark 14:29 NIV  Peter declared, "Even if all fall away, I will not."

1 John 2:16 …the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from
the world.

Luke 22:33 NIV  But he replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death."

*at this time, Peter was struggling with being full of himself.  Peter thought he could do it all --- just like the Israelites…

Exodus 19:8 NIV  The people all responded together, "We will do everything the LORD has said." So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD.

Exodus 24:3 NIV  When Moses went and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, "Everything the LORD has said we will do."

*as quickly as they declared their promised obedience, they failed. 
                -so did Peter. 
*when we think that WE can DO for God, we will fail!!  Mark it down – God did!

*God was not looking for works of the flesh – God was providing them with what they needed to walk in the Spirit, but they wanted to try to accomplish it on their own. Whenever they tried to produce Spiritual fruit outside of Christ they failed.  So did Peter – and so will we if we live thinking this way. 

John and Peter 
 A Tale of Two Disciples
Part 2

*Peter was hung up on works while John was hung up on the love of Christ – he understood works.

1 John 5:3 KJV  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.

*John knew that the love OF God enabled him to “shamar” the Word.  He looked at the Word as his Source and not as a burden.

*John was a receiver; Peter had a difficult time receiving.

Mark 10:45  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

*Jesus Christ came to serve – to pour out into man.  If we are going to experience Christ, we are going to have to learn to receive!  And for some people, that is hard! 
John 13:8 NIV  "No," said Peter, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me."

*Christ has everything we need – but we must receive it and receiving requires humility.  Receiving is Spiritual.  Peter’s pride did not want to receive; Peter’s pride drove him to works of the flesh.  (like Martha)
*greatness comes with humility.  When Peter humbled himself  things in his life changed and his life became a blessing to countless others.  

1 Peter 1:21 THROUGH HIM you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and SO YOUR FAITH AND HOPE ARE IN GOD.

*Peter realized his faith and hope were in God, not in himself!

1 Peter 4:11  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, SO THAT IN ALL THINGS GOD MAY BE PRAISED THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. To HIM be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

*what a change!  
*we must understand our role in this Christian life.  We can’t get things twisted if we want to see victory.

Acts 17:24-25  The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And HE IS NOT SERVED BY HUMAN HANDS, AS IF HE NEEDED ANYTHING, BECAUSE HE HIMSELF GIVES ALL MEN LIFE AND BREATH AND EVERYTHING ELSE.

*we must understand how incorrect we are when we think we are achieving something for God.   Too many times we live believing that God would be lost without us.  We believe that what we do is an offering to Him instead of realizing that anything Spiritual we accomplish is His gift to us.  It is only because of Him that we can do anything of Spiritual value!

*Peter thought Christ needed him to run the show.  Do I?  
*Peter was always trying to DO something “for” God.

Mark 9:5-6  Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."  (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

*pride can produce a big mouth.  A prideful person has a hard time not saying something.  Even when Peter didn't know what to say, he had to say something.  His works mentality came out in words – he again wanted to do something for God instead of just soaking up the moment and be ministered TO.

*Peter’s pride and incorrect view of a relationship with Christ was always causing him to do things he shouldn’t!

Mark 8:31 NIV  He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again.  He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.  But when Jesus turned and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter. "Get behind Me, Satan!" He said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

*pride can even lead us to rebuking Christ.
*Peter thought he knew it all, but Peter was carnally minded.
*our pride can make us believe we know more than God.  
Ex: We pray at times like God doesn't know what to do.

John 18:10-11  Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.)  Jesus commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?"

Matthew 26:51-52  With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.  "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

*Peter thought he could fight for God – we must understand that we are not fighting for God.  HE fought for us and He WON!!  We just need to walk in that victory!  There is nothing else that needs done – IT IS FINISHED!!  And HE finished it!

*drawing the sword represents our works of the flesh and they are dead works - "for all who draw the sword will DIE by the sword”!   We will walk in death as long as we walk in pride.  

Got Bread?
Numbers 14:9 KJV
Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they [are] bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the LORD [is] with us: fear them not.
The people of the land were the enemy.  They were standing in the way of the promise.  What is standing between you and God’s promise today?  Is it a financial struggle?  Is it a sickness?  Is it fear?  Is it a mindset?  Whatever it may be, we see here in Numbers that it is “bread” for us.

What does this mean?  Bread is food; it is nourishment.  We need to turn things around; we need to look at the enemy as an opportunity to feed on the Word.  No matter what the enemy represents in your life, the Word of God is your victory. 
1 John 5:4 MSG  Every God-begotten person conquers the world's ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith.
Faith is our victory and faith is the result of consistently storing up the Word of God in our heart and our mind.  Take the time to feed on the Word!  Find as many promises as you can that relate to what you are going through and then feed on them.  Take them in, meditate on them, and begin to fill yourself with them. 

As you fill yourself with the Word, the Word will begin to come back out of you in the form of actions, words, thoughts, and so on.  The very thing that could have had a negative impact on your life will be turned around for your good when you fill yourself with the Word. 

Do not let anything stand between you and the Word – even your trials.  Turn those trials around!  Open the Word and fill yourself with everything God has to say about your situation and prepare for victory!


Psalms 119:11
I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin (against you).
The Word of God is the answer to the sin problem in life.  Without the Word, we will continue to be overcome by sin. 

*it is so important for us to understand that we are not sinning "against God."  The phrase "against God" is not in the original Hebrew text of Psalms 119:11 - we are not doing something bad to God when we sin, we are hurting ourselves.  God knows how we are created - He made us.  He knows we still have our sinful nature to deal with. 
*the answer to the problem of sin is the Word of God.  I John 5:4 tells us that faith is the victory that overcomes the world – faith which is the result of our consistent intake of the Word of God. 
Psalms 119:9 KJV  BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed [thereto] according to Thy word.
         -taking heed = shamar-ing
         -according to Thy Word = The Word
*we must understand that there is only one way to fix the sin problem in our lives. 
*it is not enough to know the consequences of sin. 
*consequences, sanity, common sense, etc., cannot fix the sin problem!  Only God can!
*even punishment cannot fix the sin problem!
Isaiah 1:5 AMP  Why should you be stricken and punished any more [since it brings no correction]? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint (feeble, sick, and nauseated).
*man’s idea of utopia is futile.  Only the Word of God can change a man. 
*grace will always be greater than sin, but for grace to be effective it has to continue to be active – grace is the Divine influence on the heart in the DAILY life!  It is our daily intake of the Word – enough of a daily intake that it is influencing our heart. 
Romans 6:7   because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
*when we are participating in our new nature we are living dead to sin. 
*the answer to the sin problem is walking in the new nature – it is abiding in the Word of God.  It is filling yourself with the Word so that the Word is coming back out of you!
*we must understand that we have 2 natures!
1 John 3:7-10 NIV  Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.  He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.  No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
*this is not talking about 2 people, but rather 2 natures! 
*the flesh is of the devil and it can only sin.
*the Spirit is of Christ and it is righteous –
        it cannot sin!
*this is how we know what identity we are operating in. 
*the flesh is of the devil and it can only sin.
1 Samuel 24:13   As the old saying goes, From evildoers come evil deeds…
*we must recognize that we are Spiritually poor apart from Christ. 
Matthew 5:3   Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
*what is the kingdom?  It is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit – it is participating in your new Spiritual nature!  Only those who realize how Spiritually poor they are on their own experience this new nature.  If we think we can be Spiritual on our own, we will never live dependent on Christ. 
2 Corinthians 11:30  If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
*Paul said he would boast of the things that show his weakness – he was Spiritually poor and he knew it!   He was happy to admit it because that was the key to true Spiritual power!
2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV  But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
*His power is perfected (completed, accomplished) in those who realize they are powerless without Him! 
2 Samuel 3:39 NIV  And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!"
*David knew that his title or position was not was made him powerful.  He knew he was weak outside of Christ – he was depending on God to do what needed done!
*we must know who we are apart from Christ and know who we are with Him!  Look at yourself based on Jesus Christ!
1 John 4:17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him.
Romans 6:11 NIV  In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
*how do you count yourself?  How do you look at yourself?  Do you view yourself in Christ or in the flesh?  Do you associate more with your flesh or your Spirit?
*If we are ever going to defeat sin in our lives it will only be done through Christ. 
Romans 8:13-14  For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

         *life and death – what do they mean?
*life is the experience of Spiritual living.  Life is the result of consistently depending on the Word or making your home the Word. 
Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV  He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
*Life is the end result of the Word.  The Seed of the Word produces life – Spiritual living, participating in the Divine nature!
Deuteronomy 32:47  They are not just idle words for you--they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess."

1 John 4:10 NIV

This is
love: not that we loved God, but that Heloved us 
and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Love originates from God Almighty – love is not of the flesh.  True love is based on Jesus Christ.  Too many times we get things twisted; too many times we think love is all about us. We believe that we go to church because we love God or we do things for others because we love God, and so on.  We must understand - we do these things because God loves us! 
1 John 4:19 KJV  We love Him, because He first loved us.
The love that we have for God is the result of His love for us.  God is so good to us!  His Word is His love letter to us and when we take in the Word we are taking in His love.  The more we take this love in, the more it comes back out of us.  We love others, we love ourselves, and we love God only because He first loved us. 
Deuteronomy 30:6 NIV  The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.
Love is not about us.  It is not about us loving God – we could not even love Him if He did not first love us and do a work in us.  He circumcises our hearts SO THAT we CAN love Him!  We are helpless, we are loveless, without Him!  We must understand that love originates with God.  Only through Him can we truly (Spiritually) love.  Love is something that God births in us and it matures and grows as we abide in the Word.  If we ignore the Word, it begins to die --- but with God we can always have a love resurrection!  


Thank You for the Cross
Gal 6:14
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to 
me, & I to the world.

Acts 2:23-24
This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose & foreknowledge; & you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross.  But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.

1 Cor 1:18
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Col 1:19-20
For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, & through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Heb 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders & the sin that so easily entangles, & let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author & perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, & sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary & lose heart.

Col 2:13-15
When you were dead in your sins & in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us & that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers & authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Eph 2:16
in this one body to reconcile…to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.

Feed Your Hunger
Matt 21:18-22  Early in the morning, as He was on His way back to the city, He was hungry.  Seeing a fig tree by the road, He went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then He said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.  When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked.  Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

*Jesus was hungry just like many of us are hungry.  Hunger makes you look for something to feed or satisfy that desire.  We do the same.  We have a hunger to be righteous if the Holy Spirit dwells in us.

Matt 5:6  Blessed are those who hunger & thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

*only Christ can satisfy our hunger!

Psalms 42:1  …As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God.

Psalms 107:9   for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

*we have to look to the right place to be satisfied! 

Isaiah 44:20  He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself…

*how many Christians are feeding on “ashes” because their heart is deceived and because of this they are misled.
*if we are deceived into believing we must satisfy our hunger outside of Christ we will be misled – we will be going in the wrong direction; we will be “eating” or taking in something that doesn’t satisfy!

Hab 2:13  Has not the LORD Almighty determined that the people's labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?

*whatever we can do on our own is nothing to God.

Matt 15:9   They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.

*when we follow man's plan to feed our hunger, we are doing what we do in vain. We are exhausting ourselves for nothing – like a dog chasing its tail!  We need a relationship-- not  rules and regulations!

Isaiah 51:1 NIV  Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.

*who knows better how to satisfy you than the One who created us!  Look to the Lord for all of your needs!

Psalms 22:26  The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise Him-- may your hearts live forever!

*looking to the Lord will furnish us with the results we desire!  Only God can satisfy!

Jer 2:13-14  "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.  Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth? Why then has he become plunder?

*when we look for satisfaction outside of Christ not only do we forsake God’s help but we try to manufacture our own!   For example, a person gets into trouble because of something they have done and instead of going to God for the help they need they try to make up for it themselves.  They try to get out of the trouble on their own.  When we do this, many times it is because we feel like we cannot go to God because we are the ones who caused the trouble – it doesn't matter if it is your fault or not!  God is the only way out of your problems!  They sooner we understand this, the sooner we are on our way out of our problem!
*we make ourselves slaves when we ignore God!  Israel was not a slave by birth – according to who we are in Christ we are not slaves either!  Why then do we become plunder for the enemy?  It is because we do not live according to who we are in Christ – we associate with our flesh and in doing so we give up what is ours in Christ. 

2 Peter 2:19 NIV  They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.

*when we give our flesh an exalted place in our lives we make ourselves slaves!

Rom 6:11-12  In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

*count yourselves dead to sin – this means to see yourself according to who you are in Christ!  when we see ourselves according to who we are in Christ then sin will not have power over us – we will have power over it because Christ has set us free!
*as a result of the fruitlessness of this tree it was cursed.  Whatever cannot feed or satisfy your Spiritual hunger is cursed!  It is of the flesh and it has no Spiritual life in it!
*Jesus spoke against the tree…He declared that it would not bear fruit.  We need to speak against the unspiritual things in our lives!
*Christ has told us that we have the power, if we live by faith, to curse whatever is not profitable in our lives! 

*The Word is what feeds our hunger and it sets us free!!


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Enjoy Love!
John 4:10
This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us & sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.1
John 4:7-9
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God & knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one & only Son into the world that we might live through Him.1 John 3:1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.1
John 4:15-19
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him & he in God.  And so we know & rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, & God in him.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him.  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because He first loved us.
Rom 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Eph 2:4-5
But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.
John 17:26
(Jesus said,) I have made You known to them, & will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for Me may be in them & that I Myself may be in them.."
Eph 3:17-19
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted & established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide & long & high & deep is the love of Christ, & to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 
Take Time Out to Enjoy Love!
John 13:34-35
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.
1 John 3:11
This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
1 John 4:7
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God & knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one & only Son into the world that we might live through Him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us & sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us & His love is made complete in us.
Eph 4:32-5:2
Be kind & compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children & live a life of love, just as Christ loved us & gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering & sacrifice to God.
Col 3:13-14
Bear with each other & forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
2 Cor 8:7-8
But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness & in your love for us --see that you also excel in this grace of giving.  I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.
Mat 5:44-45
But I tell you: Love your enemies & pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven… If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

We need to KNOW and RELY
on God’s love!
1 John 4:16 NIV 
And so we know and rely onthe love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in Him.
know: allow, be aware (of), feel, (have) known (-ledge), perceive, be resolved, can speak, be sure, understand.
*do I KNOW God’s love? 
*do I ALLOW Him to love on me?
*am I aware of His love for me?
*do I FEEL loved by God?
*do I have KNOWLEDGE of His love for me?
Ephesians 3:19 NIV  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
*do we PERCEIVE His love?
*are we resolved concerning His love? 
Are we SURE of His love?
Jeremiah 31:3 NIV  The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
*we can be sure about His love – it is everlasting; He will always love me continually!  Nothing can stop the love His has for me! 
*can we SPEAK and tell others about His love?
*do we UNDERSTAND His love?
*are we relying on His love for us or are we relying on our behavior or our good works?  Too many times we are relying on the wrong thing!
*love must be our focus – love is God’s focus.  He has made love His number one priority.
Matthew 22:36-39 NIV  "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"  Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
*the word commandment was never actually used in the original Torah
*the word habit is used.
habit: a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or exposure to
sight or sound.  This acquired mode of behavior becomes nearly or completely involuntary!
The prevailing disposition or character of a person’s thoughts and feelings: mental make-up.  A settled tendency or usual behavior.
*how awesome is that!  It is about taking something in -- seeing it and hearing it to the point that you automatically do it!  That is the Word and that is how the Word works!  God knows that commanding someone to do something is not the way to get them to accomplish that thing in their lives – God knows that it is by faith that we produce action and faith comes from the Word – the Word that is seen and heard!!
*love is the result of seeing and hearing repeatedly (if we ABIDE in the Word then we know the truth and then the truth sets us free!).
1 John 4:19 KJV  We love Him, because He first loved us.
*we cannot love on our own – we will love when we see and hear, repeatedly, that He loves us – when we remain in His Word!!
*if we are going to love God and others it is only going to be because we repeatedly keep ourselves aware of God’s love for us!  We read the Word with understanding – we know who we are in Christ!
1 John 2:5 (KJV)  But whoso keepeth His Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.
*we don’t understand His love for us because we do not “keep” His word!  
Keep means to keep your eye upon, to focus on; to detain in custody; to hold fast - let nothing touch it, etc!!
*His love will never be perfected in us if we are not in the Word!
perfected:  to complete, i.e. (lit.) accomplish, or (fig.) consummate (in character):--consecrate, finish, fulfill, (make) perfect.
*when His love is perfected it is completed *the circle of love comes full circle!  I take His love in and in turn His love comes out of me and flows to others!
*we must repeatedly keep ourselves aware of God’s love for us!
Jude 20-21 (ampl.)  I carefully build myself up on this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping my arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of my Master, Jesus Christ.  This is the unending life, the real life!!
*we need to stay right at the center of God’s love for us if we want to live that zoe life!  Zoe is the unending or the eternal life that is life as God has it!  We can live this life if we keep focused on God’s love for us!  His love enables us to love Him and others, it is what activates our faith and it is the foundation for everything Spiritual!
1 John 4:9-10 KJV  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.
*again we see that love is what gives us life – we live through Him because He loves us!  Living through Him is not having to live on our own and struggle.
*when we live through Christ we display His love to others.
*His love is made apparent when we live a “zoe” life.
*we must never believe that we accomplish love for God – the fact that we love God is a gift from God!  It is not something we can take credit for or boast about – it is something we should be lifting our hands in praise to God for!
*love is not about us loving God – it is about Him loving us and sending Christ to give His life for ours!

It’s All Greek To Me ~ Or Hebrew!!
*It is so important for us to understand that the Bible was originally written in Greek & Hebrew & then it was translated into English & in translation some things became blurred. There are so many more words in Greek & Hebrew than there are in English & we need to be careful about what we think we know concerning the Word of God. We need to “know that we know” what He says, but more importantly we need to “know that we know” that it IS what He said!
1 Tim. 1:7 (ampl.) They are ambitious to be doctors of the Law, but they have no understanding of the words & terms they use or of the subjects about which they make [such] dogmatic assertions.
*we need to understand the words & terms in God’s Word in relation to the original language they were written in. Some of us unbendingly believe things that are not even the truth because we do not understand the original, fundamental meaning of the words we are reading.
*we are going to go through just a few verses & look & see how things get lost in translation. Hopefully this will inspire you to get a Hebrew / Greek dictionary so you can do some digging on your own!
Luke 14:26 (NIV) "If anyone comes to Me & does not hate his father & mother, his wife & children, his brothers & sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be My disciple.”
*this verse contradicts other verses. In John, Jesus said we would be known by our LOVE -- so why is He telling us to hate?! This word hate is one of those words that was translated poorly; it actually means to love less. Now why they didn’t use that in translation we’ll never know, but it is a key piece of information we as Christians need to know. If someone asks you why a loving God wants them to hate their family you need to be able to tell them the truth!
John 14:15 (KJV) If ye love Me, keep My commandments.
KEEP: to guard (from loss or injury, prop. by keeping the eye upon), to detain (in custody; fig. to maintain); to withhold (for personal ends) hold fast, keep (-er), (ob-, pre-, re) serve, watch.
COMMANDMENTS: injunction, i.e. an authoritative prescription:-- precept. Basically -- His word.
*many times we see this verse & we think it means if we loved Jesus enough we’d do everything right. If we just loved Him enough we wouldn’t break the law; but honestly, that contradicts other Scripture, too. God’s word tells us that apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5) & it tells us that if God didn’t do a work in & on our hearts we couldn’t even love Him on our own (Deut. 30:6).
If we look at this verse incorrectly we miss the awesomeness of it. When we love God (because Hefirst loved us) we will guard His Word in our lives, we will keep our eyes on it & we will hold fast to it because truly
understanding His love for us draws us to the Word. What a blessing that is because we need the Word! It is what produces faith in our lives & that faith produces alive, Spiritual actions in our lives (Rom. 10:17)! Without the Word we could never produce actions that have eternal value!
Heb 5:13 (KJV) For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
BABE: not speaking, i.e. an infant (minor); fig. a simple-minded person, an immature Christian:--babe, child (+ -ish).
*a babe - not a good looking girl! Ha Ha! Seriously, we think of a baby as someone who is immature but the Hebrew / Greek dictionary points out this word also means someone who cannot speak! An immature Christian is not speaking - not speaking the Word of God! They aren’t speaking it because they are still spiritually immature & they do not know the Word. They are not in the Word finding out about who they are in Christ. If we are unskillful in righteousness that means we’re inexperienced & ignorant regarding who Jesus Christ says we are now that we have accepted Him as our Savior. This directly affects how we talk because what we believe in our heart comes out of our mouth (Mt. 12:34)!
Heb 4:12 For the Word of God is living & active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul & spirit, joints & marrow; it judges the thoughts & attitudes of the heart.
SOUL: your mind, your will, your emotions - the part of you that still needs work! Your soul is controlled by your flesh until you decide otherwise!
SPIRIT: the Holy Spirit - Jesus Christ in you!
*we need to understand the difference between soul & Spirit. If we don’t we will be very confused Christians!
The Bible says anyone who is born again will not sin - so how come we still sin?! Are we not saved?! No, once we get saved we receive the Holy Spirit & that is the part of us that is incapable of sinning! We still have our soul - our mind, our will & our emotions - & our soul is still very capable of sinning. Our soul needs Spiritual help! If our flesh takes over our soul we end up in trouble! What we need to do as Christians is learn to control our soul THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT!
Ezek 36:26-37 I will give you a new heart & put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone & give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you & move you to follow My decrees & be careful to keep My laws.
*instead of letting our soul have its way, we need to get into the Spirit! We need to get into the Word of God & find verses on what we are struggling with! Keep in mind that the Bible says that the Word will produce faith & faith will produce action! Let the Word change you! Read those verses until you SEE the change in you! Don’t give up! God’s word won’t come back void!
*So we see, just from a few verses, that sometimes things aren’t exactly as they seem. We need to STUDY the word - not just read it! Get yourself a Hebrew / Greek dictionary! Look some things up! Do some digging & discover a treasure! Be sure what you think is what God really said!
A Life of Freedom
is Real Living!
Rom. 8:1-4
Therefore, there is now no
condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so He condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us…
Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me…to proclaim freedom for the captives & release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor & the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, & a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.
1 Peter 2:16
Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
2 Cor. 3:15-18
Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, & where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Psalms 142:7
Set me free from my prison, that I may praise Your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of Your goodness to me.
Ephesians 3:12
In Him & through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom & confidence.
James 2:12
Speak & act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.
2 Sam 10:2
David thought, "I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me." So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father…
1 Ki 15:11
Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done.
1 Ki 22:53
He served & worshiped Baal & provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger, just as his father had done.
Gen 26:18
Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, & he gave them the same names his father had given them.
Phil 2:22
But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.
Luke 15:17-24
"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, & here I am starving to death’...So he got up & went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him & was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him & kissed him.  The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven & against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'  But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe & put it on him. Put a ring on his finger & sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf & kill it. Let's have a feast & celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead & is alive again; he was lost & is found.' So they began to celebrate.”
Psa 103:13
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him…
Isa 38:19
The living, the living--they praise you, as I am doing today; fathers tell their children about Your faithfulness.
Rom 8:11 
And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.
*remember that you have resurrection power living inside of you!  It is at work inside of you!!  There is nothing that can keep you down! 
*as a child of God you have a right to live a resurrected life!  Quit living that old dead life - that life in the flesh!  Come to life!  Live in the Spirit! 
1 Pet 1:3-5  Praise be to the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from thedead, & into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
*recognize what is yours because of the resurrection side of the cross! 
*we have new birth! 
1 Pet 1:23  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living & enduring Word of God.
*we have living hope!
Heb 6:18-20a  God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm & secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.
*our hope is alive --- it is impossible for God to lie so if our hope is in the Word of God then our hope is alive!  And this alive, Spiritual faith that is based on God’s promises keeps us stable!  It anchors our soul ~ our mind, our will, our emotions!  
*we have an inheritance that will last forever!
Eph 1:18-20  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, & His incomparably great power for us whobelieve. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead & seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms.
*we can be shielded by God’s power through faith - and faith is the result of abiding in the Word!
Eph 6:16  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
*faith shields us, faith puts out the fire the devil tries to make in your life!  Faith!!  We need it & through the Word of God we can have it! 
*we have salvation in our future -- salvation: the totality of what Jesus did for us -- & we experience this in heaven!
1 Cor 15:51-53  Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, & we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, & the mortal with immortality.
*because He’s alive we’ll be alive one day -our flesh will cease to exist!
What is Worship?
John 4:23 AMP
A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers.
*what is a worshipper? By the original
definition, a worshipper is someone who
adores God.
adore: passionate about. love, be stuck on,
esteem, be crazy about.
*a worshipper is passionate about God.
*a worshipper is stuck on God – they won’t go away from Him; their life is about abiding in Christ – for them to live is Christ.
*a worshipper is in love with God – and we know that a person only loves Him because He first loved them, so this person knows God is in love with them. They are intimately acquainted with His love!
*what is worship?
Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to
God--this is your spiritual act of worship.
worship: ministration of God.
ministration: care, support, aid,
assistance, nurture- OF GOD.
*worship is being cared for by God, supported by God, aided by God, assisted by God, and nurtured by Godbecause you are abiding in Him!! Of God – belonging to God! Worship is a Spiritual action w/a Spiritual source – God!
*worship will begin with knowing that you are holy and pleasing to God because of Christ. Worship has Christ as the focus, not man.
*because God is merciful (not because I am so wonderful) I can offer my body as a living sacrifice.
*offer means “to stand beside” and it comes from a word that means “to abide.” Offering has to do with counting on Christ / depending on Him / seeing yourself in Him. For us to offer our bodies is for us to abide in Christ and connect ourselves to Him.
* sacrifice is something you surrender to God – we can surrender our everyday lives because God is merciful and He has made us holy and acceptable!
*a correct understanding of who we are in Christ enables us to offer ourselves – our everyday life; our thoughts, our emotions, etc.
*this is your “reasonable” service. (KJV)
*"service” means “worship.”
*"reasonable” means “of the Word!!” It also means rational or logical.
*reasonable service / Spiritual act of worship – of the Word ministration of God!!
*we cannot worship in the flesh; worship is Spiritual.
*true worshippers – those who are full of truth (the Word) – know that worship is Spiritual. They worship in Spirit and in truth! The Word is Spirit and the Word is truth – the true worshipper is abiding in the Word continually; they aren’t just singing in a church service. They are getting the care, support, aid, assistance, and nurture of God because they are abiding in the Word.
*God is looking for the Christian who knows this. When we understand this we focus on Christ – we realize that living our everyday life in a Spiritual way can only be done through Him. We realize that We cannot offer Him worship – worship is His gift to us!! We have nothing to offer Him – and the sooner we figure that out, the sooner we will become desperate for Him and receive from Him!
Philippians 3:3 NIV For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.
*circumcision is a sign of the covenant – the covenant is God’s promises (1 Chr. 16:15); it’s the Word of God. Only a person who is connected to the Word can worship. We glory (boast) in Christ when we worship – not ourselves; we have zero confidence in our flesh or what we can do apart from Christ when we are true worshippers!
*when we get to the place that we understand we cannot do anything for God on our own that is when we begin to live a life of real worship ~ of the Word ministration of God: being cared for by God, supported by God, aided by God, assisted by God, and nurtured by God because you are abiding in Him/ the Word!!
*our focus needs to be on Christ and not on ourselves!