Encouragement

How to Get It Right: Being Single, Married, Divorced, and Everything in Between

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How to Get It Right

Chapter 9: What about Love?

I believe wholeheartedly that, once you truly love someone, you will never stop though the love will transition into a different type. Otherwise, if you cease loving someone, you never loved them in the first place. Love is everlasting no matter what transpires between two people, whether in marriage or friendship. It can be tricky if we don’t see and weigh it through the eye of The Way because genuine love is everlasting. Only when we view love from a Kingdom perspective will we be able to correctly gauge relationships, the emotions thereof, and how to proceed in life. 

Being twice divorced, I now have and will always have two men out there in the world with which I have loved and made covenant. Though I am divorced from both, there will always be a bond, on some level, no matter how much time and space is between us. It’s a fact that no one can deny or remove. Because I genuinely loved both, love for them will remain unending, but the love is exclusively a supernatural agape love, a love that would behoove all to seek for their ex-spouses. 

John W. Schoenheit defines the four types of love as follows: 

EROS: “The Greek word for sexual love or passionate love is eros, and we get English words such as “erotic.” When eros was used as a proper noun, it referred to the Greek god of love. The Greek word eros does not appear in the biblical text, so we will not spend time on it in this article, but it has had such an impact on English and our view of sexual love that it is important to mention.”

AGAPE: “The Greek word that refers to the love of God, one of the kinds of love we are to have for people, is agapeAgape is the very nature of God, for God is love (1 John 4:7-12, 16b). The big key to understanding agape is to realize that it can be known from the action it prompts. In fact, we sometimes speak of the “action model” of agape love. People today are accustomed to thinking of love as a feeling, but that is not necessarily the case with agape love. Agape is love because of what it does, not because of how it feels... God so “loved” (agape) that He gave His Son. It did not feel good to God to do that, but it was the loving thing to do. Christ so loved (agape) that he gave his life. He did not want to die, but he loved, so he did what God required. A mother who loves a sick baby will stay up all night long caring for it, which is not something she wants to do, but is an actual act of agape love.

The point is that agape love is not merely an impulse generated from feelings. Instead, agape love is an exercise of the will, a deliberate choice. This is why God can command us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44; Exod. 23:1-5). He is not commanding us to “have a good feeling” for our enemies, but to act in a loving way toward them. Agape love is related to obedience and commitment and not necessarily feeling and emotion. “Loving” someone is to obey God on another’s behalf, seeking his or her long-term blessing and profit.

The way to know that we love (agape) God is that we keep His commandments. Jesus, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me…” (John 14:21a). There are Christians who say they love God, but their lifestyle is contrary to God’s will. These people mistake their feeling of affection for God for true agape love. Jesus made this clear: “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching…” (John 14:24a).

PHILEO: “The third word for “love” we need to examine is phileo, which means ‘to have a special interest in someone or something, frequently with focus on close association; have affection for, like, consider someone a friend.’ It would probably be helpful if phileo were never translated “love” in the New Testament because it refers to a strong liking or a strong friendship.”

STORGE: “The fourth Greek word we need to understand is storge, which is the love and affection that naturally occurs between parents and children, can exist between siblings, and exists between husbands and wives in a good marriage. It occurs in Romans 12:10 in the word, philostorgos, which is a compound word made up of philos (the noun form of phileo) and storge.” (end excerpt)

           

That being said, we must decipher what to do with feelings of love. Forever I will love both my ex-husbands. Forever they will be a part of who I am because being with them through good and bad helped shape the person I am today. So the question remains: “what do I do with the love I feel for my ex-spouses? If I love them, does that mean we should get back together?” 

As for my first ex-husband, mutual love appeared to have ruled before our marriage, but it quickly shifted into hatred from him toward me, which ruled for many years post-split. Because of his hatred against me, eventually hatred formed in my heart against him. Once I came into a place of forgiveness through Christ and began to walk in agape love toward all mankind, I couldn’t help but shift from hatred back into love. However, it is not a storge love between a husband and a wife, but one of agape that allows my spirit-man to extend love where hatred would otherwise long to rule. With some folks, agape love can “feel” like love that would bring them to reunite in marriage. We must keep in mind that agape love is very different than storge, the love that would tie a husband to a wife. 

Many divorced or almost divorced people come into Christ and assume that agape love dictates that they must reunite, and that simply is not so. This goes back to what I and many others have taught about not being led by the soul (mind, will, and emotions). Just because you love someone does not mean you are meant to be together and that your love can sustain a marriage. 

I dearly love and respect my second ex-husband, as I always have. My love for him is now and always was both phileo as well as agape. I married him because I misinterpreted my love for him as storge. Because of this misinterpretation, our marriage failed. Many people were hurt, not excluding both of us. Much guilt and shame on my part were involved in our divorce. My phileo love for him has never wavered, and it remains until this day. Phileo love does not mean that we should remarry if we were both single. 

It is of the utmost importance in our walk with Christ that we understand the different types of love and how to walk in them properly. We should not try to hide that we love our ex-spouses, nor should we misappropriate our love and attempt to remarry with the wrong love. With divorce, there is often a feeling of “because I love (agape or phileo) them, I don’t love my new spouse completely” or “maybe I am still in love (storge) with them” or “I have such strong love (eros) love for them, maybe we should have an affair and see where it goes.” All of this thinking leads one to a perpetual life of misery, pain, and guilt – often shame and remorse. God wants His people to live in peace, so much that He instructs us to pursue peace hot and heavily! 

Once you have moved on in your life and have concluded through seeking God’s will that your divorce is for the betterment of all, learn to love with agape love and leave the rest behind. If neither of you has remarried and you are both continually drawn to one another, reuniting may be the correct course of action. No matter what and above all else, your relationship with Jesus needs to be your priority. When He is your all-in-all, your relationships in this life will work themselves out in time. Jumping into (or back into) any human relationship is always going to be disastrous eventually if you do not first seek the Kingdom of God, His righteousness, His will, and His plan for you. 

Prayer: I desire, O God of Heaven and Earth, to walk in keen discernment to know how to love whom. I want to properly apply love as You have pre-ordained and not mix emotions with what is true and holy. I desire to keep myself pure in and out of marriage, no matter where I am in life. Reveal to me how to walk in self-discipline always. Selah.

How To Get It Right: Being Single, Married, Divorced, and Everything in Between

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How to Get It Right

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” (II Corinthians 6:14, KJV).

Unequally Yoked:

Right out the gate, most everyone can quote this Scripture above, yet few comprehend the depth of its meaning. For example, when I was growing up, I was taught that “unequally yoked” meant that no Independent Baptist should mix with any other type of Baptist (Southern, Free Will, etc.) and definitely, we were not to intermarry with any other “foreign” denomination such as Lutheran, Methodist, and absolutely not with a Pentecostal or Presbyterian! Also, no person should ever mix with anyone outside their race, nationality, political or social status. Then there is the actual reality that no follower of Christ should marry a non-follower of Christ. 

In the Old Testament, God clearly instructed His people, time and time again, that they were not to marry outside their race. What was God’s motivation in this command? Was He prejudice against skin color or language that He created? No. God gave this command to keep His holy people pure of other gods, of worshipping anyone other than Himself. We must remember that the Old Testament was about things manifesting in the natural. The New Testament was about things happening in the spiritual. The Old Testament always mentioned how people looked externally. The New Testament does not speak of outward appearance. The reason is that things come first in the natural, then in the spiritual. Therefore, being unequally yoked has nothing at all to do with anything external, but spiritual.

I Corinthians 15:46-47 states: “The first man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.” In the grand scheme of things, the spiritual is first in so much as God is Spirit and He has no beginning and no end, but this reference is written for the Earth, for mankind. We are physical man (natural first), but, through Holy Spirit (spiritual second), we are able to become spiritual. It’s all about keeping things within God’s perspective and order.

Since God chose to leave out external appearance in the New Testament, we must pay attention and follow suit. He omitted it for a purpose. We are to owe no man anything but love. Money issues aside, it translates, “All men owe every man love, regardless of anything external.” With that understood, we can eliminate any false meaning for being unequally yoked that has anything to do with outward appearance, including, and especially, skin color. As far as denomination is concerned, God is not a God of denomination, but our heart condition. If a black Baptist woman is in love with Christ and a white Methodist man is in love with Christ, what should man do to hinder them from marrying that has anything to do with God? 

To take all this even further, to be “equally yoked” in reference to holy matrimony boils down to one criterion: God’s supernatural ordination. Nothing else matters. The problem lies in how we perceive the matter of equally or unequally yoked. Again, most people have an internal checklist that they believe their spouse should meet to a tee, yet the list is generally not in compliance with God. Basically, we box God in so tightly that, no matter how clearly He reveals His will, we are too blinded by the flesh, and religious and parental tradition, to recognize. “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment,” is instructed in John 7:24.

Don’t Judge by the Cover:

My husband isn’t anything like I pictured as a child. We must realize that our appointed spouse, when we first meet, could potentially not be ready for marriage, but that doesn’t mean they never will. The issue at hand is that we often meet our God-created mate, but, since they are not on our mental checklist, we impatiently and foolishly marry the first person who comes along that fits our standard. 

Cut two tennis balls in half, switch the halves, and glue one half of one ball to a half of the other ball. Though they are the same exact shape, color, texture, and size, they will never make a whole; they are merely two mismatched halves stuck together. If you pour oil and water into the same bowl, just because they are, for all intent and purposes, together, does it make them one new thing? No. It’s merely two vastly different substances cohabitating. The point is this: just because two things appear as though they could mix, it doesn’t mean they can, will, or should. 

I fell head over heels in love with Michael when I was 15 in August, 1983, 10th-grade algebra class, upstairs, A-hall, Mrs. Ward’s class, at Lexington High School. This is the classic example of a good soul-tie, but I was simply oblivious. I took one look at him and that was all she wrote! I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know why. It wasn’t based on looks, though he was handsome; it genuinely made no sense. It wasn’t sexual, hormonal, emotional, or mental – it just was, and with no logical explanation. Unfortunately, though we were algebra buddies and I helped him pass the class, we were but acquaintances. I wouldn’t even call us “friends.” 

About nine months after we met, he moved with his family to another city an hour away. I was devastated, to say the least. I remained forever in love with him, nonetheless. I was friends with his cousin before our meeting. I would see him occasionally when he visited her. He later joined the army and moved overseas for several years. During that time, he met and fell in love with a young woman.

As time went by, I eventually married someone else, and we moved overseas. My husband said he was called to be a preacher and things “appeared” in order, godly. Though married, the two of us never became one whole. He was an abuser. He did not hit me, but abuse comes in various forms. He was sexually, mentally, and emotionally abusive. 

After separating from my first husband once back in America, Michael and I reconnected and became the best of friends. We were able to do so because he had moved back stateside, leaving his girlfriend behind. We remained friends with no romantic commitment or ties. Two years after my first husband left, I married the nice, great guy I mentioned earlier: a handsome man with a stable job and very kind. To my chagrin, we married one another on the rebound of failed relationships, which is always a formula for disaster. After two years of trying to “make it work,” I left him. We tried several times to reconcile, but it simply was not right. We did not fit together to make a whole.

In 2000, after seven years of rebelling against God (from the time my first husband left), I found myself on my face before the Almighty begging Him to show me the way to righteousness, purity, and wholeness. Though most of these stories are in my other books, my point here is that I finally submitted totally to God. I vowed that I would never again lay with anyone who was not my husband, or marry again unless and until it was as God-intended. 

The blessings in mine and Michael’s lives are flowing for many reasons. The primary reason is because he and I make one whole person. We were specifically designed one for the other. The first husband was like mixing oil and water, an apparent mismatch. The second was like those two tennis balls; we looked like a good fit but were altogether wrong. The third marriage is a perfect fit. God has blessed and blessed and continuously blesses without end. I had taken a vow of abstinence long before our engagement and marriage. Although he was reluctant, Michael complied.

Just because you are marrying your ordained spouse does not mean that the marriage will automatically override sexual sin committed with that person; sex before marriage will hinder the fullness of the blessings God initially intended. Just because you marry the person that is within the will of God, your poor conduct (fornication or adultery) before the marriage will taint the otherwise holy covenant. We must stay aligned with God before, during, and after marriage. 

Marrying your intended spouse does not give you the right to put the cart before the horse. It is altogether possible to ruin that which God intended to be pure. Our obedience in every aspect is crucial to receive the best that God longs to bestow. It isn’t that Yahweh can’t or won’t work around our sin once we are repentant, but why would anyone shortchange themselves? That would be much like Esau giving up his birthright for a one-time cup of soup!

God, in His infinite wisdom and love, created me for Michael. I thank God that we were finally able to come together as it was designed. If I had known at 15 what I know now, I surely would have waited and prayed according to God’s direction. I would have saved myself, and everyone involved in those first two marriages, a lot of heartache had I been wise as to how God ordains, not just the union of general marriage, but specific marriages. I could never explain my unwavering love for Michael back then, but now I can. 

Please keep in mind that I was a born-again Christian, and he an agnostic when we first met. By man’s standards, that would not be a union “equally yoked,” yet was altogether “of God.” This is why we must tap into Holy Spirit as soon as possible and allow our spirit-man to become awakened to hear Holy Spirit speaking, leading, and guiding. By no means could I have entered covenant with him pre-accepting Christ. However, when we allow God to reveal our mate to us, whether it makes sense to common man or not, we will enable faith, patience, and grace to rule in our hearts. 

This type of waiting takes knowing and trusting the absolutes of God. The more knowledgeable we become, the more consigned to Christ we become, the more faith we place upon Yahweh, the fewer mistakes we will make along the way.

 

How To Get It Right: Being Single, Married, Divorced, and Everything In Between

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How to Get It Right

Chapter 7: What God has Joined Together

“What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate (Mark 10:9, NAS).”

Then Yahweh God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out the ground Yahweh God formed every beast…but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. Yahweh God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out Man.” For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:18-24).

 

The content of this chapter will overlap chapter six, but I believe it is necessary for us to notice several key things in the above Scriptures as they have everything to do with being equally or unequally yoked.

What God has Joined Together:

First and foremost it reads, “What God has joined together…” If no other Scripture indicates that God does ordain specific marriages, this one does. I have heard many say that the Bible does not clearly indicate that God ordains, creates or chooses a mate one for another. Clearly, if God knows and places the exact number of hairs on our head, surely He would put even more consideration into which person we are to marry whether we choose correctly or not.

Also, I find it intriguing that God states in Genesis chapter two that He took a rib out Adam to put into Eve. Although obviously, she too came from the ground, the difference between her and the other created beings is that she is forever linked physically and spiritually to Adam, Eve’s life mate. God created Adam from the ground without taking anything from another creation, and He could have created Eve without taking anything from Adam, yet He did.

It is my estimation that God did this to emphasize the value and validity of “oneness.” This happened in their situation physically and spiritually. In like manner, this is how we are linked together as one in current day marriages. Physically, we are joined together by having sexual intercourse; spending our lives together eating, drinking, making memories, etc. Spiritually, we are connected through verbal vows made before God and man. Vows are sacred to God as we just discussed; they are meant to be permanent, binding, lasting.

To recap, God says we are never to make a vow haphazardly. Numbers 30:2 reads, “If a man makes a vow to Yahweh, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out his mouth.” Again in Deuteronomy 23:21, we see it written, “When you make a vow to Yahweh your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and Yahweh your God will surely require it of you.”

These are applicable to marriage vows, business vows, flippant sarcastic vows; any and all vows are a serious thing. I am reminded of Jacob and his haphazard vow to Laban in Genesis 31: “Then Jacob replied to Laban, ‘…The one with whom you find your gods shall not live; in the presence of our kinsmen point out what is yours among my belongings and take it for yourself.’ For Jacob did not know that Rachel (his most cherished and beloved wife) had stolen them.” Later we see in Genesis 35, Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin. The vow he foolishly made in haste had to be honored.

Is Divorce Lawful?

Let’s take look at the following passage in Matthew where the Pharisees came to test Jesus:

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? “So they are no longer two, but one flesh, what therefore God has joined together, let no man separate. “ They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it (Matthew 19:3-12).”

We must address the line where Jesus said, “Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it has not been this way.” It was not that way in the beginning because the initial marriage is that of Adam and Eve – a marriage created by God. It is because our hearts have become hardened toward God, or rather, against the perfect will of God, that disobedience abounds and unholy covenants of marriage abound all the more. Notice that this is where the Lord interjected the concept of being a eunuch.

In reference to marriage, obedience to God would be to pray for the ordained, anointed mate, walk in obedience in every other area while waiting (I.E. no sex before marriage, not dating anyone you desire just because you can, and so on), be patient with God, expectantly believe that God is God and has a better plan for you than whatever you could concoct in your flesh, and above all, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6) trusting His ways above our own.

Does He or Doesn’t He Choose Our Mates?

I was just reading where a minister posed a question which asked, “There are those who believe that God chooses your mate for you and those who believe that the male is responsible for choosing his mate. Let me hear from you? What do you believe? Give Scripture if possible, please.” Many people weighed in. The majority believed that man chooses his own mate because God gives us free will; that God does not create a mate for people.

I believe 100% given all of the good and bad marriages of the Old Testament all the way to current day, including my own personal knowledge from my life experience, that God does not choose a wife for man, but He does create one just as He did for Adam. It was up to Adam to choose Eve, or not. Isaac, Jacob, Boaz, and others had women created for them and were directed to them supernaturally, but they still had to choose God’s will or their own. These God-ordained unions honored Him when they sought His will through prayer. This is the root purpose of everything God plans – to honor Him. Hosea, the prophet, was instructed specifically who to marry and why.

For those who are set aside as eunuchs by birth, there is no mate for them. For those who chose to be a eunuch or were made so by the hands of men, God already, in advance, before the foundation of the Earth, knew this. I must say that I don’t understand such strong people of God believing in a God who knows all would just say, “Here you go. Here are a bunch of people…pick one that you like” or “ooooppps…I didn’t know you were a eunuch, so I accidentally created a mate for you. I guess the mate is just out luck and on their own!” I ask with sincerity, does that make any sense? Many make themselves eunuchs because their ordained mate married the wrong person leaving them no choice but to be celibate. One wrong marital choice throws God’s perfection way off course.

Every marriage ordained of God written in the Old Testament was preordained. It means that God strategically planned the union with great thought and detail before the foundation of the Earth. That is why the marriages were successful even though the people themselves were flawed. We do have the God-given right to choose anyone we want just as we all have the right to choose Jesus or not. That’s part of free will. Just because someone doesn’t choose Jesus, does that mean there is another way to God the Father? No. It is radically and painfully obvious to all that mankind has, generally speaking, chosen poorly in all areas of decision making, including choosing marital mates.

For those who purpose to completely seek the face of God, hear His heart for their purpose, listen to His bidding, choose patience in all matters, and trust His perfect timing, are brought together with the mate God created just for them. We see so much divorce and tragic marriages within the body of Christ, including within the leadership, because we pick according to our standard, wants, likes and dislikes and choose not to wait upon Yeshua.

Marriage on Earth is to be a reflection of our spiritual marriage to God – unfortunately, they are a disgraceful display at best. We make such poor choices because we say with our lips, “I love God” yet we don’t trust Him enough to wait for Him to bring forth into our lives that which He orchestrated.

We don’t generally have enough faith to believe that God is big enough or thoughtful enough to create someone for us or us for someone. Rather, we do our own thing because it may have the appearance of holiness, yet is altogether unholy. Worse yet, not only are our choices in a spouse not for us, but they are against us and then we want God to come and fix our unholy covenant that He never purposed from the start.

God is so intricate in His planning and timing that He creates a mate for those who are to marry. That is why the Word reads, “What God has brought together.” Old Testament to current day, unholy covenants have taken place at the hand of our foolish choices and will proceed well into the future. We are led by emotions, hormones, loneliness, even (and especially) within the body of Christ, therefore, Holy Spirit had no say in the matter. Now having new knowledge of our own personal missteps, dare we have the audacity to question God as to why our marriage is so horrific?

We all know and can quote, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares Yahweh, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11, NAS).’” I do wonder if we recognize and readily accept that there is a plan for every minute area of the life of every person. God is an orderly God who knows the plans He has for us. If we don’t seek His face, we miss it and make up our own plan as we go along; we usher our own demise, no fault of God. Few wait upon the Lord due to foolish fleshly desires not reigned into obedience to Christ.

Since two become one, would God so sloppily not create two specific people for one another? We conduct ourselves as if God is saying, “Yes, two become one, which is a deeply serious thing, but that isn’t my problem. I have left you abandoned and without direction. Do whatever you want, however you desire, and don’t even suggest that I (God) have time to bother with such things. Figure it out.”

In closing, remember that in our marriage to Christ, we become one entity – completely losing ourselves in Him. In human marriage, two become one – both are to lose themselves in the other creating one new entity. Is that not serious enough an issue for God to plan ahead? He ordains, but we choose.

But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of Yahweh, how he may please Yahweh; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of Yahweh, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband (I Corinthians 7:32-34).

How To Get It Right: Being Single, Married, Divorced, and Everything In Between

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How to Get It Right

Chapter 5: Common Law “Marriage” part II

Happiness or Holiness:

 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 5:1-6).

 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God (I Thessalonians 4:3-5).

 “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24, NAS).”

***

 Neither immorality nor impurity should be named among God’s people. These texts are life-altering. Far too many people are concerned more with their personal happiness than holiness before God and it should not be. When seeking happiness, there’s guilt involved feeling like they’re being selfish seeking such happiness. In this state of guilt, the concept of holiness gets swept under the rug.

 Imagine if you will a person completely surrendered to God. This particular person will no longer seek happiness nor will they be led by emotions of guilt, shame, fear, or anything else. They will be, on the other hand, focused solely on pleasing the Savior. In this condition, there is no room for anything other than holiness; they’ll do whatever it takes to be in direct obedience to the One who can resolve any matter. A person, such as the two men mentioned above, would be able to make clear, concise decisions concerning their own personal life. They would be able with ease to tell their girlfriends that, since they’re seeking the face and holiness of Christ, they must of necessity break union, or at the very least, stop living in sin. Their desire for holiness would cause them to surrender completely to Christ and, in so doing, do whatever necessary to follow Christ.

 One must understand that commitment and surrender are vastly different things. Commitment in or to anything means that you are the one in control; you can quit whenever you want. Surrender, adversely, denotes one not in control, you can’t quit as you no longer have a say or vote in the matter; you have consigned your vote, say, and will. Countless people are “committed” to their girlfriend or boyfriend and suggest that, because of their commitment, they don’t need to marry. However, God doesn’t call people in relationship with Himself to commit, but to surrender.

 Since human marriages are a reflection of our relationship with Christ, we too are to surrender ourselves to our spouse. This way, there’s no out because you aren’t controlling the relationship, God is and/or your spouse. Commitments are broken at will every day because the one committed controls how long they stay. When both the husband and wife surrender to each other, there is an unbreakable force; yet in today’s marriages, both want to do nothing more than commit so that, if they eventually want out, they can leave.

When we say marital vows, most miss the fact that this is supposed to be a form of surrender, a giving yourself to the other; two becoming one (both are surrendered into one new creation). Because people miss this, too many are committed for a season but, eventually, they check out be it with literal divorce or emotionally though remaining legally married. In living together unmarried, one inadvertently surrenders themselves to a person without covenant and that can only lead to a disaster. This is why people who are living together having taken on each other’s bills, kids, property, etc. feel trapped though they’re actually free to leave. Surrender means crucifying self; it means to lay down your life for another. We all need to stop surrendering ourselves to one without covenant because, without covenant, there is no protection and all the lines of what is right and wrong are blurred leaving everyone confused and imprisoned.

 To reiterate, God doesn’t call anyone to happiness, but holiness just as He doesn’t call us to commit, but to surrender. Surrender causes us to become lost in Christ. Surrender causes us to become lost in our spouse. Surrender takes your focus off personal happiness (selfishness) and diverts it toward holiness (selflessness). Keeping this in mind, it will assist you in the quest for the correct union of marriage preordained by God. Instead of asking, “Will this make me happy?” always ask yourself, “Can I surrender to him or her? Should I surrender to him or her? Can I utterly subject myself to him or her and be in right standing with God?” These questions can literally save you from entering an unholy relationship of fornication, adultery or unholy marriage and even save you from exiting a correct marriage gone sour through divorce.

 

Commitment and happiness = self-focus and personal control

Surrender and holiness = God-focus and control abandonment

 

Prayer of Purity: Father, may I be self-controlled as Jesus was when He walked in human flesh. As I seek purity, reveal to me the weaknesses of my flesh that I will flee evil instead of deceiving myself into thinking that I have strength I do not possess. Lead me into the path of righteousness that I will not cast my foot upon a stone and stumble and fall. I choose today to crucify my fleshly man and receive Holy Spirit to take His rightful position as the ruler of my heart. I repent of all impure activity in my past and receive your forgiveness. I choose to abstain from all sexual impurity. Thank You, Jesus, for paving the way of holiness. Amen.

How to Get It Right: Being Single, Married, Divorced, and Everything in Between

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How to Get It Right

Chapter 4: The Covenant of Intercourse, part I

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals…food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for Yahweh, and Yahweh for the body…Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to Yahweh is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:9, 13, 15-20)

“Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge (Hebrews 13:4, NAS).”

We Make Our Messes

When God’s people choose to sexually give themselves over to another outside the marriage covenant, in essence, they are setting their body above God making it and its desires an idol above God. Sex outside of marriage is a serious matter that has been diminished into something seemingly harmless, sinless.

God has given us direction and informs us as to the consequences of our actions. When we sin against God, especially in this arena, first we revel in it; then, when the bad seed turns into a harvest, we wonder why God has forsaken us because it’s too heavy to bear. We reason, “I am a good person. Why did God let this happen?” We must stop worshiping man (self or others) and placing self above Yahweh. Idolatry will always lead to a shattered life.

 Understanding Intercourse

Marriage is intimacy. Intimacy is communion; drawing as near to someone as possible, otherwise known as intercourse. Because this word, intercourse, is grossly underestimated, I have listed the definitions:

Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

  1. connection or dealings between persons or groups
  2. 2. exchange especially of thoughts or feelings: communion
  3. 3. sexual intercourse

Lexic.us:

  1. Communication between individuals; a commingling (to blend thoroughly into a harmonious whole); intimate connection or dealings between persons or nations, as in common affairs and civilities, in correspondence or trade; communication; commerce; especially, interchange of thought and feeling; association; communion.
  2. The act of sexual procreation between a man and a woman

Sex is merely one form of the expression of intercourse; it is not intercourse itself. Sex was created by God to be a beautiful expression of covenant commitment which changed lives for the better. It is one form of expression of life-changing covenant. Hence, sexual activity outside of marital covenant falls flat and leaves one empty and frustrated. There is a greater void to someone before they engaged in sex because there is no unity through covenant. The people are left having become “one body,” yet devoid of covenant.

As it is now, sex is destroying lives because it has not been kept sacred. The world is now flooded with fatherless children, motherless children, and childless parents (through abortion). There are teens who are parents. There are adult men and women murdering their unborn and born children because they were conceived from fornication or adultery. Sexually transmitted diseases are running rampant because society has made sexual intercourse something for everyone and anyone. God did not create sex for this purpose and we are all suffering at the hand of our own selfish indulgence, negligence, lack of self-control and abuse. God is not the problem – we are.

Marriage Covenant Requires Death

As a recap from chapter two, “For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives (Hebrews 9:16-17).” Entering into marriage brings death to both people as individuals and recreates them anew as one being. This is a requirement for true success, both in our spiritual marriage to God and physical marriage to people; yet it rarely happens due to our gross lack of understanding of covenant. The refusal to die to self in order to activate covenant results is disastrous for all involved! If dying to self seems extreme, understand that we don’t fully enter into the covenant of marriage until we do. In fact, when two people refuse to become selfless, their marriage covenant hasn’t truly been activated.

Take a close look at the opening Scripture of this chapter. The act of sex makes two become one. To restate, sexual activity was created as a bonding tool exclusively for marriage. It is one way (but not exclusively) for people to express unity, oneness – intercourse. It is designed to be a physical depiction of what happens spiritually with God. When we give ourselves over to another human being in this capacity, we are uniting with them, be they our created mate, or a random person we’ll never see again. This is a serious act that, especially this day and age, most people take lightly, including many within the body of Christ.

Look at what happens when we have sexual intercourse outside of the bonds of holy matrimony. People become erratic, possessive, ashamed, needy, condemned, and they feel entitled to liberties with the other person even if they barely know one another. There is a “clinginess” that takes effect, especially for the woman. This is because she and he became “one flesh” whether they understand it or not, like it or not. Sex is a spiritual form of super glue, if you will.

For the man, generally speaking, he becomes closed off and runs the other way. If there was a friendship, it flies out the window. Everything becomes awkward and uncomfortable. This is because they both gave and took what wasn’t theirs to offer or receive. This is God’s law in motion; the law of “two become one flesh.” It’s like the law of sowing and reaping; reaping a bad harvest as a result of sin is not punishment but rather law in motion. So it is with sex outside of marriage.

How to Get It Right: Being Single, Married, Divorced, and Everything in Between

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How to Get It Right

Chapter 3: Understanding Covenant, part II

 

Understanding We’ve Already Died:

Judgment was the result of the sin of one man (Romans 5:15-19). This judgment came to all men. Judgment is upon all flesh whether you are “good people” or bad in the eyes of the world or self. It took only one sin to defile all. But, praise God, since it only took one man to bring condemnation, it took only one act of righteousness through One Man for all to be justified! One act of disobedience equals condemnation for all. One act of pure obedience equals justification to all who receive.

Although we have no choice in being born into condemnation, we must choose to receive justification. In other words, your biological mother could not choose for you at natural birth to be born into righteousness. It is a conscious act that has to come from the individual. You must seek it. It is always available, but still you must accept and receive it of our own free will. Since you were naturally born into condemnation, you now must be born (a separate birth) into supernatural justification and sanctification.

Jesus Christ, through His death and resurrection, brought into the earthly realm the Blood Covenant; it is a better covenant than the covenant made to Abraham. The awesome thing is that you get the better covenant plus all the promises given to Abraham and his descendants. God has provided more than you can ever think or imagine. You must seek death in order for His promises to be revealed and to be accessible.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:2-3, NAS).”

As an aside, I love what this Scripture reads: “God did.” What the Law could not accomplish, what man could not accomplish, God did! He did not leave you without hope in your condemned state. He fulfilled willingly what could not be fulfilled through ordinary man.

The Blessed Covenant:

“‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them,’ He then says, ‘And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin (Hebrews 10:16-18, NAS).”

“For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15, NAS).”

***

“Since a death has taken place,” stated in Hebrews 9, you are to take up the cross (death) with Christ; the One who made the covenant already gave His life. If you are a member of the Body of Christ and do not die to the flesh regularly, know that you are just running around aimlessly quoting Scripture to no avail. You are going through motions that are meaningless to God because they are of the flesh. Anything you do that is not Holy Spirit instructed is as wood, hay and stubble to God – worthless from and eternal Kingdom, standard.

You must care for your physical body because it is the temple of the Living God. However, you must be emptied of the sinful nature so that Holy Spirit may freely move through you and also that you may be free, with Him and in Him. It is for your benefit as well as the Kingdom of God.

“It is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise who are regarded as descendants,” reads Romans 9:8. The Scribes and Pharisees claimed to be “descendants” because they were in the physical bloodline of Abraham. This Scripture (and those along with it) states that the covenant of the Son comes through faith in Christ. The flesh has no covenant with God. It is our spirit that receives Christ through faith. All who enter into covenant with the Father are true descendants of Abraham and have access to all the promises given to him and through him.

The Seal of Promise:

“In  Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13, NAS).”

“Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12, NAS).”

“To be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Ephesians 3:6, (NAS).”

***

Holy Spirit is the Seal of Promise. He is the mark of God. Without Holy Spirit brought to life by the flesh having been put to death, how will God know you? How will the demons know you? How will man know you? Two lives cannot reside in one body. The flesh of man is perpetually at war with the Spirit of God. Death to the worldly way of thinking and doing, the lusts of the flesh, brings us into covenant relationship with the Father, your Husband. It brings you into access to all of the blessings of the covenant but disobedience breaks covenant protection. This is why He calls you to die daily; He wants you to inherit all that is His and He has given instruction how to attain it. He withholds nothing from us; it is we who withhold His hand.

Prayer:  Father, I release myself to You totally and completely without reservation. Show me how to die daily to the fleshly nature in which I was originally born and how to allow Your Holy Spirit full access to all of me. Make me mindful that I am an heir to the Promise through Your Spirit and not through external actions of my flesh. I thank You, Jesus, that by Your stripes, I am healed and by Your wounds, I have been transferred from death unto light. I bless You, Almighty, that You did not leave me abandoned, but adopted me as a rightful heir to the Kingdom of God. Amen.

How to Get It Right: Being Single, Married, Divorced, and Everything in Between

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How to Get It Right

Chapter 1: God’s Perspective

“When you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to profane it, even My house, when you offered My food, the fat and the blood; for they made My covenant void – this in addition to all your abominations (Ezekiel 44:7).”     

Understanding God’s View:

God hates divorce; however, we need to clarify what type of divorce is hated. God understands divorce, for God has been divorced as noted in Ezekiel 44:7. To “make My covenant void” is to divorce. He divorced His holy Bride in times past due to her harlotry and deep-seeded wickedness. God wants His people to view both marriage and divorce, not from the perspective of Law, but from His heart. He is Law, but He sent His Son to fulfill the Law that mankind was incapable to fulfilling; therefore, we must look at things as a whole instead of in fragments.

Eunuch for the Kingdom of God:

Marriage is a physical depiction of our spiritual union (marriage) with God. In Matthew 19:11-12, Jesus says, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”

A eunuch, by man’s definition, is a “castrated human male.” However, spiritually speaking, since the Spirit is neither male nor female, either gender can be a eunuch in so much as they choose to abstain from sex for the greater good of God’s Kingdom. It could be one who has homosexual tendencies but, for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, he or she vows to God to abstain. It could be a sex addict who, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, abstains altogether and so on.

We should be so in love with God that obedience is our desire, not our burden. This comes from trust in who He is, therefore we want to submit because His ways are best. Unfortunately, even when we possess the earnest desire for obedience, we rarely know what true obedience is. We must all keep in mind that not all people are meant to marry, but whether we are or whether we are not, there is always a plan. If the one who is called to be a eunuch can accept it, they should seek Yahweh to give them peace, joy, and understanding of their God-ordained purpose.

 

Divorce Hope:

If on the other hand one is to marry, God specifically creates their mate so that, when the two come together, they perfectly unify with one another and with God. In this, God is honored and the people are richly blessed. There are countless marriages not of God, but of man. To open this first chapter, I have inserted the following excerpt from Divorce Hope so as to lend insight from someone else’s point of view on marriage and divorce:

We have heard this Scripture: “Yahweh God of Israel says that HE HATES DIVORCE” (Malachi 2:16). This is almost always quoted as if God hates all divorces in general. But that’s just not true. We have previously read from the Bible books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Deuteronomy, and 1 Corinthians that God is not against divorce. Then why all the confusion concerning why God said that “He hates divorce?” The reason for the confusion is because there are TWO “kinds” of marriages and TWO “divorces” being mentioned in the Malachi 2:11-16 passage.

The “divorces” were not official divorces; they didn’t need to be. They were already previously married and “unofficially” married again. The Hebrew word shalach means “putting away”― a separation, as correctly translated in most Bibles. However, the King James and a number of newer versions have incorrectly translated shalach as to mean: divorce. It never meant divorce and it doesn’t mean divorce. The word was most likely translated as “divorce” to fit what was taught in the church. Shalach is just a common word used throughout the Old Testament which means to: go, separate or to send. That’s it!

So why did God angrily say that He “…hated putting away [a separation]?” “…Because you have not kept My ways [concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage] but have SHOWN PARTIALITY IN THE LAW” (Malachi 2:9). The Law specifically stated that when a man got a divorce from his wife that he was to write “…her a CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE, put it in her hand, AND [shalach] send her out [put her away]…” (Deuteronomy 24:1). God also commanded them not to marry anyone who did not serve Him ― who served a foreign god (See Nehemiah 13:25-30). Instead, men separated from their wives without ever giving them a Certificate of Divorce and then illegally married someone else. This is why Yahweh said that they were still “their wife by covenant.” The marriage covenant had never been dissolved by the Divorce Certificate.

“Yahweh’s holy institution which He loves…Yahweh has been witness between you and the wife of your youth…[and] SHE [STILL] IS YOUR COMPANION AND YOUR WIFE BY COVENANT. For Yahweh God of Israel says that He hates divorce [shalach], [separating without a Certificate of Divorce]…. He has [illegally] married the daughter of a foreign god. May Yahweh cut off…the man who does this being awake and aware.” Malachi 2:11,12a,14b,c,16a

Because these men had remarried illegally ― separated from their wives without giving them a Certificate of Divorce, they were in adultery as Jesus stated: “Furthermore it has been said, “Whoever PUTS AWAY [separates from {apoluo}] his wife, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE. But I say to you that whoever PUTS AWAY [separates and remarries without being divorced from] his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery: and whoever marries a woman who is PUT AWAY [separated without being divorced {apoluo}] commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31-32). (Yahweh never forgot about the Malachi incident when He came to Earth to redeem lost man). The Old Testament Hebrew word shalach and the New Testament Greek word apoluo are equivalent which will be discussed later.

Because these disobedient men still had “un-divorced” wives, Yahweh did not command them to give their illegal wives a Certificate of Divorce, rather, they simply had to “separate, put them away, [shalach].” SO DID GOD HATE DIVORCE? NO! RATHER, GOD HATED THAT THE HUSBANDS WERE SEPARATING FROM THEIR WIVES WITHOUT GIVING THEM A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE WHICH WOULD ENABLE THEM TO GET REMARRIED. THIS IS WHAT GOD HATES!

The men of Israel were SEPARATING from their wives for self-gratifying reasons. God Himself was a “witness” at their original marriage ceremony which was still in effect. The marriage covenant was never dissolved by a Certificate of Divorce. The men remarried outside their own culture and tribe. God considered the children they bore unholy because of the mixed marriages bringing curses into their families (See Ezra 9:1,2; Nehemiah 13:26-30).

Because of these unauthorized marriages, the Word of God came to Ezra and Nehemiah to have the men and women of Israel who had done this thing, to separate from their spouse and even from their children (See Ezra 9:1, 11-12, 10:3, Nehemiah 13:23-27). In this situation, God’s command was to “put them away, separate yourselves from them!” This was NOT the kind of marriage to which God was saying, “I hate divorce!” He was saying loudly, “Get out these wrong marriages!” DIVORCE IS A METHOD TO SEPARATE THE ONE, AND MAKE THEM INTO TWO just as a surgeon’s knife is used to separate the cancerous flesh from the healthy flesh. Both operations are good. Divorce can be used to kill a righteous marriage, just as a surgeon’s knife can be used to kill a healthy person. (end excerpt from Divorce Hope)

Narrowing the Margin of Error:

Whether you agree or disagree, we still must understand that divorce happens to Christians and non-Christians alike. So, instead of passing judgment, let’s find out how to prevent divorce as well as recover from one. It can easily be prevented by understanding before marriage that God does not have 100 people lined up before you and say, “These are all people who love Me. Pick one!” God is strategic in all things. To be “unequally yoked” does not mean that you are forbidden to marry someone of another race, color, nationality or denomination. Rather, it’s about who God created specifically for you to become one with the one that God pre-ordained for you so as to honor Yahweh in the union. This definitely narrows the margin of possibilities!

If God’s people understood this basic truth, we would not allow ourselves be to deceived, led by the flesh and drawn into marriages of the flesh. With understanding, there would be a huge decrease in divorce since there would be a decrease of marriages and more that would actually be “what God has brought together.” People marry for many reasons other than seeking the face of God: sex, physical attraction, money, power, loneliness, rebound, rebellion, loyalty, parent-pleasing, parent-rebelling, pregnancy, to cover homosexuality, to cover fornication, etc – and all of this within the Body of Christ. Even if both people are Christ-followers, that doesn’t mean that the two should marry. We make messes and, when things go wrong, we question why God made such a mess. We need to seek the face of God concerning our ordained spouse…and then wait on God

Philadelphia: A Kingdom Call to Brotherly Love

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Chapter 19: Problems and Resolutions

“For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness (Hebrews 5:1-2, NAS).” 

I have narrowed it down to four main problematic areas within the body of Christ concerning love: 

  1. Lacking love for God which would provide surrender
  2. Lacking love for self which would produce growth
  3. Lacking love for the brethren which would produce unity
  4. Lacking love for unbelievers which would produce transformation

The thing which stands out the most about Hebrews 5 is love. Where there are priests, they are for the sake of and help for the people. These appointed priests are to deal gently with those who don’t yet fully understand God’s Word. The priests, post-resurrection, are anyone who is hidden in Christ, not just those with a title. We, men and women of God, are a priest because the Priest lives within each of us.

As for problem #1, above all else, those who make a profession of faith fail to understand surrender, total submission to the King. Loving God is not merely hating Satan. Surrender can only come from total immersion into another being. We can’t truly submit ourselves to someone until we love them through and through. Falling in love with God eludes most. This is primarily due to insufficient teaching from the elders surrounding us. One generation after another, we become weakened in the area of loving God. As a result, each new generation wanes in their love and devotion to God. We first must comprehend we are to fear God. Through such fear, love blossoms. No fear, no love, no surrender.

Problems  number 2 & 3 go hand in hand. If God’s people would become aware of the fact we are priests under the headship of the High Priest, Christ, then we would begin an entirely different journey. We would allow ourselves to yield spirit, soul and body to the One True God. That would spring forth being able to more readily love ourselves because we would know we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Once we recognize we are not to loathe ourselves, our appreciation for the life God has granted would allow room to love others as we love ourselves; not with a vain love, but a brotherly, unconditional love. With such love, unity would prosper.

Once we resolved issues 1-3, we would not be so short with the ignorant as so many of us are. We would not be quick to pass judgment on others who don’t comprehend things as do we. We would be far less prone to gossip about sister-grumpy-pants or brother-too-slow and much more apt to function in patience, kindness, longsuffering, and more. Once we achieve the first three hurdles, we will then be positioned so as to love the unbelievers who mock, scorn and hate people of God. In this, problem #4 is also resolved. We would witness more transformations from the world into the Kingdom of God.

To hate a fellow servant of God is to hate ourselves. We desperately need to fall in love with God so as to cease the self-loathing which will stem into falling in love with the Body of Christ and the human race at large. Love, not as the world views “falling in love” as it relates to sex, but rather a falling in love with mankind as God loves us.

Fitted and Held Together:

Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all…as a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here  and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Ephesians 4:1-6, 14-16).

***

How strong is your curtain rod of love? How deep is your Philadelphia? How earnestly are you in love with your fellow bondservant of the Most High? How far are you willing to “give whenever asked” as Christ directs? How forgiving, merciful, kind, magnanimous, gentle, benevolent, and selfless are you?

This is not for me to judge but to cause you to judge yourself. 1 Corinthians 11:31 says, “if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” I encourage you to judge yourself with righteous judgment, not with pride or self-abasement. Be honest, repent if necessary and go and sin no more. Be a cheerful giver; one who desires to be so driven by the supernatural love of God you can’t help but give.

Philadelphia will cause you to stop caring about being used by people. It will stir in you such a giving spirit you can’t be used, per se; you’ll be too busy giving freely. After all, if you’re giving your all, there’s no opportunity to be “used” by anyone. In the Kingdom of God, Philadelphia is a pre-requisite – it is not an option. May the Lord bless you with such profound love you will go out making disciples of many nations through the love of Yahweh.

Philadelphia: A Kingdom Call to Brotherly Love

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Chapter 18: The Curtain Rod of Love

In 1 John 2:18-19 which closed chapter seventeen, many professed to be of Christ, yet they were liars. Remember I John 3:11-12: “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.” Also, recall I John 4:8 which proclaims emphatically, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

Let me try to explain this simply. Many profess Christ, yet do not love. We witness this often, but not exclusively or in every case, in people who can quote Scripture, go knocking on doors, preach, pray, teach, and proclaim loudly they are followers of Christ. In these scenarios, their actions do not back their testimony. This ilk is contradictory in nature as they are quickly angered when someone disagrees with them, they walk away from people who don’t align the moment they believe they should and they are impatient, unkind, mocking of others they deem “less than” themselves, gossips, slanderers, faithless and even murders.

I mention murderers because clearly the Word reads that he who hates his brother is a murderer. All these are characteristics of a person lacking God’s supernatural love. Every good thing of God hangs on love, just as curtains hang from a rod: without the rod, the curtains cannot stand. With the rod, on the other hand, the curtains, shades and attachments hang effortlessly in harmony. Without love, peace, patience, kindness, and so on, we have no base of operation; no stabilizing rod which manages its offshoots. Without the rod of love, all else falls to the ground as waste.

When a person is in Christ, love will manifest; it’s inevitable. If it does not, God is not present (I John 4:9). “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another,” I John 4:11 states with great assurance. I remember having a conversation with my husband years ago where I made the comment, “I am so in love with people.” He laughed and replied, “How ironic since you used to hate people!” He was so right. Even when I began to really walk with God, I still had disdain for the human race, namely Christians who thought themselves better than everyone else.

For example, at the time of that conversation, I had been in prison ministry quite some time; I loved those women and was very patient with them. Then I had the opportunity to teach in a Sunday school class. The people who had been Christians a long time didn’t seem to want to grow. I, to my surprise, became very impatient with them. In my heart, I wanted them to be set free from the baggage of life, but I displayed impatience and a ‘holier than thou’ attitude.

Holy Spirit revealed to me that, though I had come a long way in love, I still had prejudice (hatred) of which I needed to shed myself. And so I did. Because of love, when sin is revealed to me, I immediately deal with the issue. I don’t ever want to be like Satan; I want to be like Christ. That may sound extreme but, when we get down to the brass tacks, this is what is ‘of God’ and what is ‘of Satan.’ With that insight, life is simplified and it becomes much easier to rid self of the things not of God. By “things,” I am referring to attitudes of the heart as well as physical items which distract from a Kingdom mindset.

The more I mature in Christ, and it is an endless process, the more I see humans as does Christ. I see them as someone who has been hurt and damaged somewhere, someway, by someone or something. By seeing them through God’s eye (single vision), I now find it difficult to criticize or ignore them. Where there was a time when my flesh would thoroughly enjoy criticizing someone in my mind, now I can’t even begin to do it. Even with fellow Christians who reject this way of thinking, I still love them. Because of the love of Christ, I find it strangely simple to disagree with my fellow brethren and still be unified. That’s what all of this is about: learning to be unified despite our differences. The love of God exclusively can accomplish this otherwise daunting task.

It should go without needing to be said, but we do not unify with those of the world; rather we are still to love them. I cannot stress enough that it is the love factor which will change a heart, not how many Scriptures we quote or by walking away from them in condemnation. Shaming someone does not draw them to Christ; it merely pushes them further and further into darkness.

My mom has a friend who read my first book, What was God Thinking: Why Adam had to Die. The woman, a professing Christian, told my mom that she so disagreed with my thinking that, if she knew me, she would stop speaking to me. Oddly, this same woman’s life is in shambles. It’s devastating to the body of Christ as well as the lost how the most staunch, religious people seem to have the most problems absent of resolve or peace. Again, it was the devoutly religious that hung Jesus to the cross. Be wary of the religious; they generally do not have an ear or heart for truth.

Encouragement for Parents of Chronically Ill Children

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Question #4: Being a primary care giver of a chronically ill child is difficult on a marriage because I now have separate rolls and it can be very lonely. What do I do?

Yes, indeed, this is a common problem in marriages with anyone caring for a chronically ill, handicapped, or otherwise disabled child. We can become so consumed with caring for the child that we completely neglect our marriage. Speaking for myself, I had to purpose to make time with Michael, not only intimately as in “time alone,” but in allowing him to help. Eeeekkk! When he helped, I generally didn’t like the way he did it (just being honest here). One time Sophia had a long stay at the hospital two hours away and Michael took off work to come with us. Generally, when she was admitted, he didn’t come with us because he was always working and could not take time off. This became intensely annoying and I don’t often get irritated with him. I couldn’t figure out why I was so annoyed as I usually appreciate any time with him. I discovered quickly that I didn’t like him having any say in my interaction with the doctors, mainly because I had all the information needed and could spit it out in my sleep. When he jumped in, he didn’t know and would have to think hard to answer and, as you would conclude, still had to look to me for the appropriate response. This definitely rubbed me the wrong way and Sophia too.

Unfortunately, whoever is doing all the caring tends to get in such a routine that, when our spouse tries to help, it’s more frustrating than helpful as it interferes with the status quo and overall flow of things. Over time, I learned to let him help with Sophia even when he was slower to the draw than I because:

  1. He needed to be an active participant
  2. I needed a break from the daily pressures
  3. It allowed us to bond over the situation instead of being pulled apart

I’m sure there are other valid reasons, but these are the top three. We as women (sometimes men too) tend to be so focused on helping our child that we lose all sight of helping our marriage. We can be, at times, controlling. I’m sure it isn’t you, but it was definitely me. It wasn’t that I needed to control for the sake of control, it was because I knew I had everything down to a science and could do it faster and better than he. However, if you want to maintain or regain a healthy marriage, you must, of necessity, allow your husband to take the lead even when you may have to secretly go behind them and do it correctly. I have found that caring for Sophia jointly was far more productive and easier than going it alone simply because “I do it better.” Sophia also had to learn to allow him to do things for her because she knew I did it all so effortlessly. Letting Michael take the reins from time to time strengthened our marriage and it swept away the loneliness. Truly, working together, even though I still do the lion’s share of the caring, helped in the area of not feeling so alone and altogether by myself in this quest to aid my child.

After all, we must keep in the forefront of our minds and hearts that we entered into covenant with our husband, not our children. If we don’t do whatever is necessary to strengthen our marriage, everyone involved will inevitably lose in the process of trying to gain something else (a healthy child). The more we as followers of Christ begin to gain knowledge and understanding of “covenant,” we will be better equipped to be strong in our marriages all the while caring for our child.

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”