One of my favorite things to eat is pizza. There are times I long for a deep dish pepperoni pizza. I think about the crisp but soft crust, the ooey gooey melted cheese on top of the just perfect sauce, topped with crispy edged pepperoni. The aroma of that hot pizza permeates the house, mmm mmm! Can't you just taste it? Have I stirred your desires? Perhaps you've been so thirsty, all you could think about is getting a drink of water. Your mouth very dry, parched to the point that the longing was overwhelming. The thought of the cool, wet, thirst quenching water made you salivate.
These are two examples we all have experienced at one time or another when it comes to cravings. Hunger and thirst. Psalms 42:1 says, "As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God." The Psalmist was saying he is desperate for God, just as a deer is for fresh water. We should fiercely pursuit the Lord. Hunger is an active state that is seeking for a specific need to be satisfied. That's why our bodies often crave specific foods. But the only One that can satisfy a spiritual hunger is the Lord! Psalms 63:5 "You satisfy my soul with the richest foods. My mouth will sing your praise with joyful lips." Mat. 5:6 says, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."
There are many things that can draw us away from a hunger for the Lord. Daily chores, errands, friends and family that pull on us to come and 'play', not to mention, but I will, our own wants, watching television, going to the movies, playing sports, working out at the gym, shopping, hobbies, etc. All of these are fun and entertaining. There's nothing wrong with doing them, except when they take the place or priority over our relationship with God. The trouble is, on the one hand we want to a live passive life, while on the other, we have a great attraction for thrill. I suppose that's why we place much time and energy into these other things. Since it's clear that God instilled within each of us desire, perhaps we should consider WHAT we are to desire.
In Matt. 22:37 Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect)."
#1) He is saying, Let Him capture your heart! He wants to be the love of your life. After all, Matt. 6:21, "...where your treasure is, there your heart will also be." What we treasure is what we love. (Children, spouse, vacation, money, food, job) And the place of our affection is obvious by where most of our attention is invested.
#2) The soul is the 'core' of a person. It is the inner self or what defines us. Loving the Lord with ALL our soul is expressed in our choices, lifestyle, how we spend our money, or what we do with our time. Remember love is demonstrated not just verbalized. John 14:15, Jesus said, "If you love, Me you will obey My commands." We can tell when our heart is captured, because our way of life (soul) becomes God centered.
#3) Romans 12:2 "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God." Real transformation begins with a renewed mind. When we begin to think differently, we act differently. Allowing the Word of God to permeate our mind brings us into agreement with God. Therefore, we come to know the Truth and recalling His love, goodness, mercy and grace and loving Him with our mind.
In Phil. 3:8 the Apostle Paul stated, "Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ". Misplacing our affections cause our desire for God to diminish. Consider what Paul wrote, compared to knowing Christ nothing else matters. Yes, life must be lived, work must be done, but in the essence what surpasses it all, when it comes to the end of life, the only thing we'll have when we meet the Lord is our love for Him. Let your desire for Him prevail over the craving for things.
The Bible says, to not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we don't lose heart. (Gal. 6:9) I know you would probably agree with me, that waiting for something is often difficult. Especially if it takes a long amount of time. For some people two weeks is a long time. Yet, I'm reminded of Abraham, who waited 25 years for the promise of his son, Isaac. 25 Years?! Wow! Most of us would give up long before that. We'd say to ourself, "Well, I must not have heard God. It was probably my imagination." And that would be that! Because faith extended means we must make a demand within ourself. It's casting down fear, pushing aside doubts and pressing in closer to God and His Word. Remaining in faith for something, puts a demand on us spiritually. Generally it brings challenges against our flesh requiring us to discard imaginations and conversations from friends or family. It is essential during the 'wait' that we remain consistent in believing and keeping our confessions in alignment with the Word. (Mark 11:23-24 "Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you and you will [get it].") Being constant in resisting worry and confusion is a must as well. (Rom. 4:19-20, "And not being weak in faith, he (Abraham) did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,")
Straining our faith is pushing ourself to trust God, to believe in Someone we can't visually see or touch. It means we are convinced, without any doubt that He will come through for us, no matter what we see, feel or think, regardless of how long we must wait. Faith of that nature is that place where we conduct ourself as if we already have what we are believing. We are in such peace and joy that nothing can move us to presume otherwise.
That type of faith is:
1) Oblivious to surroundings. (2 Cor. 4:18, "while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.")
2) Does not get discouraged. (Heb. 12:1 NIV "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,")
3) Keeps all natural circumstances subject to God's Word. (Heb. 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him."), and
4) Committed no matter what comes against it. (1 Pet. 1:6,7 "In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith, of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.")
Receiving any promises from the Lord, requires that kind of faith! Heb. 6:12 Amp. says, "In order that you may not grow disinterested and become [spiritual] sluggards, but imitators, behaving as do those who through faith (by their leaning of the entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in his power, wisdom, and goodness) and by practice of patient endurance and waiting are [now] inheriting the promises." Without patience, faith will quit, and lack of diligence will steal our faith for the promise.
Need does NOT move God, FAITH moves God. Or just knowing and believing what belongs to you won't activate faith. We must read and study our Bible and pray in the Holy Ghost to build our faith. (Rom. 10:17 "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." & Jude 20 "Building yourself up on your most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit") Besides this, we know that faith without works is dead! It's also important to be a doer of the Word we've studied. When we do these things we can't go wrong in our faith. We will see results! Stay steady, Activate your faith, Don't give up!
People from every facet of life want to know they are loved. From the young to the elderly everyone needs the affirmation of love. Just knowing that someone cares for us puts a skip in our step. We begin to act happier, smile more, talk nicer to others and even develop a confidence within. I suppose we could honestly say Love is very powerful.
Of course we all know there are four types of love.
#1. Storge. Is brotherly love, like the love of a family member. Whether a person is a blood relative or a friend that's just like a family member, this is the kind of love that's expressed. Your family may have a time-honored friend that you call Aunt or Uncle, because of the sentimental fondness. Storge is the love conveyed to grandparents, parents, and your family in general.
#2. Philia. A friendship love. Many of us have friendships we've developed through various life events. A close relationship could have developed from your school years, whether elementary or college, you've remained devoted. Regardless of how you came to generate this bond you have this Philia love for them.
#3. Eros. Romantic love. Probably the love with which are are most familiar. And truthfully needs less explanation. But nonetheless it's a passionate love with sensual desires and longing. One encyclopedia said it was "pure emotion without the balance of logic".
#4. Agape. Unconditional Love. This is the type of love God expresses towards us. And the sort of love we are to express to others. Agape love is selfless, expecting nothing in return.
So in light of this, we all in one form or another need and want love. Yet we are ultimately searching and craving for unconditional love. We want someone to love us regardless of our faults, despite our inadequacy, or without regard to our appearance. And sadly there are many people who never experience this true type of love. Let me just say there is One who loves you this way. God loves you! You could be the most despicable person, and He still loves you. Oh, He may not love the things you do or have done, but He loves YOU! 1 John 4:10GNT says, "This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven."
The devil wants to steal the revelation of God's love for you. He'll do it through the means of media, rude and uncaring people, or your own thoughts based on your past. Also people often view their circumstances as a judgement call of God's love. Just because things in your life haven't gone well, does not mean God does not love you. Know that in life there will be hardships. Romans 8:35 says, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?....yet in ALL these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Paul went on to write in verse 38, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
NOTHING can keep you from receiving God's love unless you allow it. Push back fear or thoughts that are shouting louder than His love, and just receive it now. Say "GOD LOVES ME! I AM LOVED! GOD LOVES ME! I AM LOVED!"
Prayer: Father, You have given me a spirit of power, of love and a sound mind. I refuse to be fearful about anything! I am empowered by the Holy Spirit and recognize Your love for me. I overcome every circumstance that comes against me through Jesus' love. I AM more than an overcomer through Christ! Your love reinforces my faith and helps me to become powerful in life situations by the Holy Spirit. I choose to daily confess Your love for me, thereby reinforcing my faith. Thank you Lord, for I know faith works by love! Amen.
February is the 'love' month. All because of February the 14th. Focus on expressing love towards our significant other, whether just dating or married, is in high gear. Not that love isn't expressed any other time of the year, it's just a month designated to showing it. Thousands of dollars are spent on candy, flowers and gifts than in any other month. Don't you know the retailers love this month!
When I think about love, not only the love for and from my family comes to mind, I think about God. After all, He's the One that made it all possible to have family. His love far extends any other. His love is so great for us, He planned for our redemption before our very existence. Any other person would have said, "Oh, just let them go to hell, they deserve it." Yet, throughout all history, God's grace and mercy was extended, all because of His love. If you're like me, it's easy to recall to mind all the wrong actions that we committed before Christ. Regardless of the degree of sin, God in His infinite mercy forgave us when we came to Him and blessed us with innumerable benefits.
Since He gave us much grace, when we completely messed up, it only makes sense that we grant it to others that have hurt, offended, or treated us poorly. Don't they deserve the same kind of regard that God gave us? If God, can look past our immoral behavior and grant us forgiveness and love, how much more should we do for others? Despite the error of their treatment toward us and even though they spoke maliciously, forgiveness is necessary. Col. 3:12-14 says, "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. and above all put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." Even 1 Peter 4:8 says, "Above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins."
I would suppose that everyone has had some pretty hurtful things happen to them from others over the years. And whether people embarrassed you, tried to defame your character, sent you ugly letters, called you names,or whatever the action, forgiveness is in order. During a season of very hurtful times, God explained it like this to me: "Just like the people that condemned and crucified Christ didn't know what they were doing, neither do the people that hurt you. And just like with Christ, all things work together for good...." It was at that time, that forgiveness towards my enemies no longer was just a faith statement, but became a heart statement. I could truly forgive them and release the pain to God. He then healed my broken heart and freed me from anguish of injury.
Love is more than just giving gifts to the person with whom you have deep affection. Love is what's stated in 1 Cor. 13:1-8a "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails...."
Don't just read this blog with the idea that 'someone else' needs to hear this! Read this with the notion that "I" need this. Make a decision that even though you may speak with the tongues of men or of angels, in light of all your spiritual or natural knowledge, whether you have great faith or little faith, in spite of all the 'good works' you do, or all the sacrifices endured, you will care for others more than you do yourself. Resolve that you'll be satisfied with what you have, yet have faith for God's promises. Determine you will put others first, keeping control of your own actions and thoughts. Choose to never notice unfounded misconduct done to you, enduring and persevering in grace and mercy, trusting God in everything. Purpose to look for the best, insist on progressing towards the mark for the prize of God, never giving up but remaining in faith & love - because faith works by love! This is unfailing love!
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."