Chapter 7: The Prodigal
Compassion, compassion, compassion! We cannot walk as citizens of the Kingdom of God without it, it simply cannot be. When people ask how I can be compassionate toward my ex-husband who was too many horrible things to mention, I say “because of grace”. The same grace I need is the same grace he needs; neither of us nor do any of you deserve it. It is an unwarranted gift from God. The same grace God poured out for me and you is the same He poured for my ex-husband and all the other offenders of the world. It’s literally that simple.
How could I expect God’s grace and forgiveness to apply to me, once a prodigal, if I can’t look at another prodigal with compassion? Without compassion, can one actually be in, of or for Christ? Just because someone remains a prodigal doesn’t mean I should despise them; I too was in their shoes at one point in life. I may not have done the heinous things as did they, but sin is sin and the result is always death. No one can be a “little dead.” Varying sins have diverse consequences on Earth but, in the spirit realm post death, the end result is the same for the little ones and the big ones.
I deserve death and hell. I received grace through repentance to the Almighty. Now that I’m delivered from death and hell, it is my responsibility to assist anyone I can into the same grace. To wish harm on our enemies is against the very God of whom we boast. Wishing for our opponent to “get what they deserve” is not of the Kingdom of Heaven, it just isn’t and will never be.
One of my favorite texts which drew me to love is John 7:47: “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” When I came to the realization of how sinful I actually was and was in dire need of such limitless redemptive love, I became equally able to extend love to my foes. I deserve hell. You deserve hell. Your enemies and your friends deserve hell. We’ve all been forgiven much. The sooner we recognize this fact, the sooner we’ll repent of our unforgiveness, hatred and vengeance and begin to intercede for our oppressors.
We who are found in Christ were all, at one time, as the prodigal son. We left our first love whether or not we knew God was our first love. We chose sin. We chose the evil one no matter how nice a person we view ourselves. You and I were the prodigals and Christ loved us all the same. He forgave us, welcomed us into His shelter and gave us His Kingdom. Does our enemy deserve less grace than you or I?
Let the Peace of Christ Rule:
“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them (Psalm 119:165, KJV).”
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:`5) is not a suggestion, but a command from our heavenly Commander in Chief. Simply stated, when God’s peace rules in our hearts, we will be offended by nothing. When we are in a position to be offense-free, there’s nothing by which we will be moved unto hatred. God’s peace is a key element to a successful relationship, both with God and with man.
Remember Romans 12:18 which reads, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Sometimes peace is not possible because of someone else’s lack of peace. Nevertheless, you and I who are in Christ must demand our feet be shod with the mighty boots of peace which is a part of the armor of God. Peace is the opposite of discord. Discord stems from offense.
The Prodigal son did not know God’s peace; therefore, he spent his inheritance on worldly, temporal entertainment. When it ran out, he was as much in the literal and spiritual gutter one can possibly find themselves. Spiritually, when we have no peace, we will waste our heavenly inheritance on the foolishness of Satan’s domain: hatred, bitterness, malice, and much more of their kind. Seek the peace of God and do not let it go.
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14, NAS).”
“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22, KJV).’”
“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart (Matthew 18:35, NAS).”
“And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound…but we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found (Luke 15:27, 32, NAS).’”
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Colossians 3:12-17).
Chapter 6: Righteous Judgment vs. Being Judgmental
I Corinthians 5:9-13, I Corinthians 5:1, II Thessalonians 3:6 are a few texts which bring a stark clarity as to what we are to do with immoral people called by the name of Christ. For those brothers who remain immoral after proper admonition, do not associate with them until they choose repentance before God. We who are walking according to the Spirit are judges of the body of Christ. Christians who operate in sin say, “No one can judge me” but that isn’t true. Only the obedient followers of Christ who are walking according to the Spirit cannot be judged. This is because they continually judge and correct themselves according to Holy Spirit. In this, no judge is required since there is no offense.
So as to confirm my statement, look at Galatians 5:22-26 which states, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited or provoke one another or be jealous of one another.” In short, this means those without sin cannot be judged.
There is no law against the love of Christ or the offshoots of love. However, those who are in Christ yet do not abide the love of Christ (which produces a multitude of good fruit), we are to judge one another so as to correct with the purpose of restoration unto Christ and His body. This admonition is from a heart of love, not from judgmental condemnation. Keep in mind that James 2:13 states that mercy triumphs over judgment. We are to be merciful, especially in righteous judgment – that’s what makes it righteous.
As far as those in the world who are not in Christ are concerned, leave them alone so far as correction; we are not their judge because they belong to the evil one. Love them. Honor them. Respect them. By your love, allow them to experience the love of Christ so they may come out of darkness and into the Light.
Contradiction or Not?
“Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it (James 4:11, NAS).”
“But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God (Romans 14:10, NAS).”
These and other texts like them are about being judgmental and standing in a “judgy spirit” as I like to call it. Being judgmental, aka critical, is not the same as standing in righteous judgment. I can know the difference this way:
- If my judgment of someone in sin causes me to hate them, desire for them to ‘get what’s comin’ to them, see myself as better than they, causes me contempt against them, and/or I condemn them, it is not righteousness driving my judgment and I have entered sin alongside them.
- If my judgment of the brethren in sin causes me to love them through verbal correction and prayer for them so as to be restored, it is righteous judgment.
If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother (II Thessalonians 3:14-15, NAS).”
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother (Matthew 18:15, NAS).”
“Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers (I Timothy 5:1, NAS).”
“For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13, NAS).”
In brief, never stand with a haughty, judgmental spirit against a brother. All admonishment for their sin must come from a heart of God’s unfailing love. The admonished must see that, though the correction may seem harsh, the love of God is not. They must know we are correcting them with the sole purpose of being restored, not for condemnation. The purpose of godly correction is not punishment, but of discipline so they may be won back to Yahweh.
God’s righteous judges are not called to be curt, rude, belittling, maligning, condemning, or anything else of this ilk. Kingdom brotherly love is not mean-spirited, but kind and compassionate. All righteous judgment comes from love. A judgmental spirit, contrarily, always condemns and that is not of God. Test every spirit. Test those who admonish others according to the Word of God. Be humble, receive proper correction, realign with Christ, and go forward in the love of Christ. The more we correct ourselves, the less outside correction we’ll require. Always love the brethren whether encouraging or disciplining. Furthermore, proper discipline is encouraging.
“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves. (I Corinthians 5:9-13, NAS)
“But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one (I Corinthians 5:11, NAS).”
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us (II Thessalonians 3:6, NAS).”
Chapter 5: Honor All People
“Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king (I Peter 2:17, NAS).”
We see the command “honor all people.” That’s a big one! Even when we do not agree, we are to honor people, all people, which is a seriously tall order. Always, in the face of a dispute, pause and think, “Is what I’m about to say or do going to honor or dishonor this person?” It’s a rule of thumb by which I purpose to live. I fail from time to time, of course but, when I fail, I make it right as soon as possible. The better way, most certainly, is to have as few failures as possible so that our actions do not require apologies. The right path is always the best path with which to begin. This is to eliminate backtracking from a mess initially having done things the wrong way.
We read in the last chapter, “all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.” This is a theme throughout the Word of God and it is rarely obeyed. I cannot convey enough how lacking love is among the brethren, the people of God. Such unresolved animosity and hatred are running rampant among those who claim to be among citizens of God’s Kingdom. I can scarcely understand it, yet it is a fact. We must ask ourselves, “What must we do about it? What must I do about it?”
First, the common sense approach is to begin to seek God’s love, how it looks, how it functions, and how we are to take God’s mantle of love and apply it to ourselves. Secondly, once applied to our own lives, learn how to apply it to the brethren (neighbors). Thirdly, and this is crucial, learn how to apply it to non-brethren. If we do not follow this basic and biblical pattern, we will continuously fail ourselves, our family and friends, strangers, and enemies. We have a compulsory standard to love from Heaven and its King:
- Love God (Mark 12:30)
- Love ourselves (Mark 12:31)
- Love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31)
- Love our enemies (Luke 6:27-36)
Some people in the body of Christ comprehend loving their brethren, yet can’t muster enough love so as to love their neighbor who is not within the body of Christ. They hate their neighbor (literal or metaphoric) who is Muslim, gay, an adulterer, philanderer, gambler, liar, and so on. We tend to view “those people” as our enemy and, therefore, justify our hatred against them.
God does not, cannot, and will not condone such behavior. No one can love God and hate their neighbor. There are plenty of folks with whom we do not agree and, furthermore, do not like. The problem with that is, we are not called by God to “like” anyone. We are called to a higher instruction of eternal, heavenly, Kingdom love.
I recently had a meeting at Sophia’s (my teenage daughter) school with the powers that be concerning her education given the fact she’s been so sick. Because of the chronic illness, she has been unable to attend regularly; hence requiring homebound assistance. At this meeting, tempers began to flare between the head of the committee and myself. She was talking about Sophia as though she were a delinquent and I a derelict mother. I don’t care about her opinion of me, but mess with my kids and the scenario becomes much more intense.
My response to her was in a loud tone and very aggressive as was hers. I had prayed before I entered the meeting because I know how they can be; they don’t see Sophia as a person, but merely a number on a schedule to which they must attend and admonish. She was deemed as a problem they must solve. With that prayer, I released to Holy Spirit my tongue, attitude and heart. As a result of that prayer, I said no unkind words and I did not blow up or thrust accusations against them. I simply spoke what was necessary (though aggressively at moments) and moved on. That could only have occurred because I had put on the love of God as armor.
I tell this story because there was a follow-up meeting two weeks later with the superintendent. She, as you may suspect, was present in this meeting. Between the two meetings, I reminded myself that she, the head of the homebound committee, was still just a person. She is a person (of God or of the world, I do not know) who was trying to do her job just as I, a mom, was doing mine. The love of God compelled me to look beyond my aggravation so as to approach her the second time with respect regardless of how I deemed her inaccuracy in Sophia’s assessment as a delinquent.
When I saw her at the start of the meeting, she did not make eye contact with me as she was aware of her misconduct. Notwithstanding, I purposefully greeted her so as to put her at ease. As one can imagine, at the close of the first meeting, I was riled and wouldn’t have minded telling her off; in this I must be honest and candid. As I continually close in with the Savior of all people, I was quickly reminded that I must honor her, despite our differences.
The Scripture in II Peter at the top of the chapter reads, “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” Notice God distinguishes separately “honor all people” and “love the brotherhood”. They are two entirely different matters. There is first, how we entreat anyone and everyone, brother or not, and secondly, how we treat our brethren. The distinction is made so as to not justify loving only the brethren but all of mankind. Furthermore, it states thirdly, “fear God” which alone would compel us to extend love and honor to all people and, fourthly, “honor the king (president or other rulers).” The gamut is covered as to whom we are to love and honor.
Chapter 4: Hatred vs. Love
“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (I John 3:15, NAS).”
We are commanded, “Do not hate your brother.” I don’t know how much more I can say that isn’t mentioned in the Bible. The contention, fighting and bickering must cease. There must be a better, more Kingdom-productive way to communicate and resolve issues with the brethren than what we’re currently doing. The divisiveness within the confines of our selfish, fleshly nature is fragmenting God’s Kingdom. A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. We must inquire of ourselves the following:
- “Is there a brother I hate?
- What am I going to do about it?
- How can I change my attitude, perspective and approach so as to resolve the matter between us?
- How can I bring unity in the midst of disunity?”
These simple questions, when answered honestly, will bring about God’s will. We need to regularly reevaluate where we are in the Spirit. If we caused and/or perpetuated hatred on any level, resolve the matter. Repent and go and sin no more. Through prayer and supplication, we will do what is righteous whatever it takes.
“And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also (I John 4:21, NAS).”
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor (Romans 12:19, NAS).”
“and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love (II Peter 1:7, NAS).”
These texts instruct what to do: do love your brother. God never tells us the incorrect without directing us into what is holy in His sight. I especially favor the last few verses above in I and II Peter. The emphasis is on kindness and love which could possibly sound redundant, yet there is a purpose for the repetition. The words kindness, love, harmonious, sympathetic, humble in spirit and devoted are, technically, the same at the root which is Kingdom love. Nevertheless, they are marked individually so as to add emphasis to the necessity of love and all it encompasses.
We live in a treacherous, vile, depraved world as no one could dispute this sad state of affairs. It’s been this way since the fall of man when Satan’s reign was reestablished. Lucifer originally ran the earthly realm until deceit and corruption were found in him. He was dethroned and, eventually, Adam was given charge over the Earth. Once Adam fell prey to the wiles of the enemy, Satan once again took his seat of authority which Adam foolishly relinquished to him.
The ruler of this present Earth is the devil; therefore, we ought not be surprised that the days are wicked. With this fact made clear, we can better understand why God’s Word gave such prominence as to how to conduct ourselves as strangers from Heaven in a peculiar land called Earth. The days are evil; we, God’s people, aka the brethren, must learn how to overcome through the blood of the Lamb, how to live and abide as overcomers instead of having to succumb to the ways of the devil. We must become more aware of the spirit realm, Satan’s and God’s, so as to recognize the danger of not loving the brethren lest we fall into his trap just as did Adam and Eve.
Let us, Kingdom heirs, purposefully become kind, loving, forgiving, selfless, humble, godly, holy, righteous, devoted to one another, and much more of the like toward our brethren.
“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen (I John 4:20, NAS).”
“But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes (I John 2:11, NAS).”
“By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother (I John 3:10, NAS).”
“The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him (I John 2:9-10, NAS).’
Chapter 3: Who is My Neighbor and Who is My Brother?
First, it is imperative to establish that the term “brethren” or “brother” is not about gender but about a spiritual position in Christ Jesus. Just as the terms “son” and “bride” in the Bible are not about gender but about position in the Kingdom of God, so is “brethren”. It’s only when we begin to view the Word of God from a heavenly perspective instead of an earthly that we can understand the meaning as God intends. We must identify with the Spirit instead of the flesh so as to gain insight from Heaven.
Throughout the generations, people have been inquiring, “Who exactly is my brother and who is my neighbor?” Personally, I believe that, when a Christian poses such an inquiry, their heart is not in the right place. Their focus is not on the Kingdom of God, but on themselves and their desire to find a loophole so as to get out of loving the unlovable. Nevertheless, since the question isn’t completely without merit, I’ll attempt to enlighten people so there will be no more question as to whom we must love as a brother or a neighbor. Brotherly love, or rather, the love from the King and His Kingdom, is to be extended to all people.
“We are to be at peace with all people so far as it is dependent upon us” is stated in Romans 12:18. Peace is an offshoot of the love of God. There is no genuine peace absent of brotherly love. Let’s take a closer look at how God defines our neighbor and our brother.
As we all know, our proverbial neighbor is anyone, anywhere with whom we come into contact. Some would cite, “They (whomever) are not my brother, so I don’t have to treat them as such.” This is errant because, even though they are neither the biological or spiritual brother in Christ, we are still commanded to extend brotherly love. Our neighbor can be family, friend or foe. They can be our neighbor in the house next door or the person down the street or across the state, country or continent. If we come in contact with them, they are our neighbor. Our neighbor can be of the same affiliations, race, creed, color, gender or anything else, or they can be someone we would otherwise justify hating. They can be Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, American, Jewish, British, Asian or other and still be our neighbor. Our neighbors are all the people around us.
I once had neighbors which were grossly unfriendly to everyone. They were rude and reclusive and wouldn’t allow our daughters to play together even though they were nearly the same ages. I did not want to extend neighborly love, not one bit. Yet, the love of God compelled me to give love when it wasn’t reciprocated. Likewise, my neighbor is the customer service rep with whom I need to speak about a product dispute. I have caught myself on more than one occasion growing weary with irritation when they weren’t resolving my issue. The representative may have been in California, India or the Philippines; regardless, they too are my neighbor and I am to extend the love of God. I have failed countless times when I have allowed my aggravation to dictate how I speak to such a neighbor. I call myself to accountability so as to purpose to regain my composure and my conduct.
A brother, on the other hand, are those specifically within the body of Christ no matter their gender, race, nationality or anything pertaining to the natural man. Our ‘brother’ is anyone doing the will of the Father.
To reiterate, a “brother” is a position, not a gender. Our brother can be attending the same local body of believers or someone who does not. They can live close geographically or across the globe. We may know them our whole lives or never meet in person. Our “brother” is someone who shares the same heavenly blood and DNA of Jesus.
We cannot rightly exert prejudices of any kind against a brother and be in right standing with the King of kings. By the Spirit, we will know them. If we are led by Holy Spirit, He will bear witness to our brethren. “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16).” When I witness firsthand or hear of a “good godly” person persecuting a brother in Christ because they do not look like them, worship as they, or in any way resemble themselves, I am flabbergasted. When will God’s people realize and accept we who walk according to the flesh are not conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ? People who are alive in Christ are the brethren of all others who are alive in Christ. Period.
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40, KJV)
“You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:17-18, NAS).”
Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50 NAS)
Chapter 2: Known by Your Love:
“By this, all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35, NAS).”
The Greek word for brotherly love is Philadelphia (Leviticus 19:18; Revelation 1:11, Romans 12:10, I Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1, I Peter 1:22, II Peter 1:7, I Peter 3:8, Revelation 3:7). It is easy to find innumerable hateful Christians, but you will never encounter a hateful authentic follower of Christ (with the exception of someone having a rare moment, but it is the exception and not the rule). Many call themselves “Christians” but do not follow the simple command of love. Everyone can have a bad day, absolutely, but there are many who think themselves ‘of God’ yet are hateful, negative, discouraging, depressing, hopeless and more. This is not of Christ as it is the opposite of Kingdom love.
This one poignant verse in John 13 sets a tone for all other Scriptures concerning love. This is indeed a hefty statement because, when the truth is told, few walk according to such supernatural love. As I look around the professing body of Christ, I dare say, according to this one verse, most who say they are followers of Christ are not. I can make this bold statement because of the severe lack of love permeating from our ‘good church goers.’ To be a Christian is not necessarily the same as being a true follower of Christ; the terminology “Christian” is vague at best.
I do not say this to condemn anyone as the purpose here is love and to guide us all into deeper levels of love. However, I say this so as to address the problem so that it may be rectified. There really isn’t much more I can say so as to elaborate about such great love for the brethren as it speaks plainly to the heart of the matter. I suggest to everyone who believes themselves to be called by the name of Jesus to take a personal assessment, to do a self-evaluation of how they extend love toward themselves, family, friends, co-workers, bosses, clerks, strangers, and, equally as important, toward their enemies.
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Matthew 5:44-47 (NAS)
What we see depicted in Matthew 5 is scarcely visible in the modern-day church. For those who’ve attended any denominational church in their lifetime knows full well the lack of affection one has for another. People fight for rights to leadership, positions, to have their voice heard, and any other such nonsense. Without the body of Christ unifying as we ought for the greater good of the Kingdom of God, we will continue to shred God’s name, His Kingdom and His Word; hence, many who believe themselves filled with God’s Kingdom have been deceived by a lie from the great deceiver. Religion as a whole is set directly against the Kingdom of God so as to delude the masses into thinking they are “of God” yet are of the evil one. Remember, Christ was killed by the religious.
I ask with all humility: When will the fighting, hatred, and malice end? When will we cease being lovers of self and begin to place others above ourselves, the Kingdom of God above our own desires, and to walk a life of ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven’? How we treat our family with love is indicative of human nature. How we treat our enemies with love is indicative of how much we love, value and reverence God, His Word and His Kingdom.
Whom Do You Love More?
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these. II Timothy 3:1-5 (NAS)
II Timothy 3 speaks volumes about the condition of man, not just those in the world but those who call themselves by the name of Christ. All the things listed above are clearly visible by many who call themselves Christians. Why? Because we are in the last days and, if possible, even the elite will be deceived (Matthew 24:24). Right under our noses are preachers, teachers, apostles, prophets, and evangelists under the ruse of Jesus’ name only to spread more dissention. These people are the false ministers for which we have been warned. True apostles, prophets, preachers, evangelists and teachers will lead us into the unity of the Spirit instead of their own group. By example and word, these will teach the hearers to follow in the footsteps of love.
When someone who claims to follow Christ breeds prejudice or hatred of any kind, be assured they are false; they are of the evil one, the father of lies. Let us begin to set our hearts toward the Holy One of Israel and find the love to which we are called. We must begin to view our brethren and neighbors as ourselves, not as merely a partner against whom we have the right to fight.
Chapter Seventeen: God’s Present Glory
In II Chronicles 7:1-3, we witness the magnificent display of God’s glory overtaking the house of the Lord, so much so that the priests couldn’t even enter. That must have been something to behold! What a beautiful expression of the majesty, radiance and power of God’s glory. If we skip to Revelation 12:23, we again witness the vast physical visual of the radiance of God’s glory. It was so externally bright there was no need for the sun or moon to shine. This is how the illumination of the Lamb of God is so bright there is no need for any other light source. The light of Christ, the Lamb of God, is beyond brilliant.
This brings us to expounding upon the value of the more subtle complexities of God’s present glory; the way He reveals His glory in everyday life. Obviously, we don’t experience the physical presentation of the brilliant illumination of God’s glory on a daily basis. That wouldn’t be conducive or productive as we’d be blinded! To round out the message of finding God’s strength in our most advanced weakness, we must look at God’s glory and how to tap into it on a daily basis.
Take a look at the following passages about the glory of God:
“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3, NAS).”
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14, NAS).”
“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (II Corinthians 4:6, NAS).”
Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the radiance of God’s glory. He is the same Son of God that radiated the house in Chronicles and the city in Revelation. This same Lamb (Jesus), while walking in human form, did not go around glowing and overwhelming people, though He could have. Glory has varying definitions as listed above and I love #6, “a height of prosperity or achievement”. Jesus is without question God’s height of prosperity. Additionally, He is the height of splendor and beauty; the praise, honor, distinction, and renown of God the Father.
With the glory of God defined this way, we can then begin to see how God’s glory is present in those who become the temple of such a Lamb. The radiance of God in daily life is not going to be a loud boom filling you (His tabernacle) with such physical brightness because no one could come near you; no, He will be more subtle, gentle, approachable. His glory, His illumination, will present in other ways.
God’s radiance will shine brightly through you when you can face the worst fears, struggles, and adversities of this life with grace, fearlessness, power and authority foreign to those who walk according to the flesh. God doesn’t generally, as noted throughout the Bible, remove our difficulties; rather, He allows us to get to the weakest and worst place possible so that, when He strengthens us, His glory is revealed.
My pastor, Mike Turner, said it like this, “God reveals His glory when you let Him into the defeated places of your life. Ezekiel’s promise for us today is how the Lord brings restoration to everyone with a broken heart who will trust Him.” If you will choose to trust Him, allow Him to dwell richly within you, and obey His commands out of love for Him, you will be overwhelmed by His present glory and His supernatural strength in perilous times. Allow Him to transform you into His image from glory to glory. His strength and power are readily accessible when you humble yourself to the point of absolute abandonment of self.
Colossians 2:20-23 poses the question, “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?” The verses then state, “These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”
Religion and traditions of man can neither exemplify nor manifest the glory of God. It is only in the abandonment of the natural man that you are no longer bound by such heavy laws and regulations. Rules and regulations cannot draw Christ near unto your heart; therefore, they cannot strengthen you. Surrendering to Christ is sweet in the bitter times, calming in chaos, beauty in the face of this heinous land in which we temporarily sojourn, and liberty from the temptations of the flesh. God’s glory will become visible to you when you surrender spirit, soul and body. God’s power, strength and authority will become evident and accessible when you no longer utilize anything of the frailty of self.
May the glory of the Lord be the guiding light in the darkness and the strength in your weakness!