What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Colossians 3:12 says that, “Therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering . . .” The author of Colossians is saying that we have to put these things on; they may not always be part of our personal wardrobe. Before we open our mouths, it would be great if we’d think quickly and “change our clothes,” in a figurative sense. We should put on tender mercies instead of judgment or criticism. Put on kindness instead of anger and wrath. Put on humility! Meekness is not weakness, but strength under restraint. You might say, “Well, I won’t be anybody’s doormat.” Tell that to Jesus! “I get tired of doing that stuff; we’re not supposed to let people walk on us.” Noooo, we’re supposed to turn the other cheek! I’m going to challenge you to do something that I personally began doing. I’ve begun to go through my Bible and write the red print (in longhand, not typing it on my computer). I’m writing out every word that Jesus spoke. It’s not that big of a task; He really didn’t say all that much, even in the four Gospel accounts. They say that if you hear something that your retention is about 20%. If you write something though, it increases significantly. As I’m writing Christ’s words, it really brings the message home. I challenge you! I’ve been a Christian for well over thirty years; I’m not boasting in that fact, but what I am saying is that I’m still learning from the red print. Everything I need to know can be found in Jesus’ words! If I could just do what the red print tells me to do, then I wouldn’t have to worry about anything else! It’s amazing. I was writing the Beatitudes the other day, and I came under conviction. “Oh Lord, help me to be a peacemaker.” He says, “Come and follow Me, and I’ll teach you how to be a peacemaker.” It’s so simple; we try to complicate it. Jesus made it so easy that even a caveman could understand. Look at verse 13: “Bearing with one another.” Now what does that mean? It means putting up with one another. “Forgiving one another,”...

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Who Do You Love?

Trickery . . . “That we should no longer be children tossed to and fro, carried about by every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men” (Ephesians 4:14). You mean there’s trickery??? Oh yes, there is! There’s also cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. In Ephesians 4:15-16 the Word says, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by which every joint supplies . . .” All of us have something to offer, and the sooner we develop a partnering-type of mentality, the sooner the work will be brought to completion. But we cannot partner together the way the Scriptures describe as long as we’re trying to control, manipulate, and simply use one another for our own benefit. Many times Christians come together, and this is the script going on in their heads: “How can this benefit me,” when the thought ought to be: “How can I serve you? How can I help you?” Every joint has something to supply that will edify the entire body. Therefore, my mentality ought to be: How can I help you grow and progress? If I help you prosper, I’m going to be blessed. It’s a given! It’ll happen when your motivation is right and when you’re connected to your first love! You don’t have to chase the blessing; the Bible says that the blessings of God will come upon you and overtake you. I like those kinds of blessings! We don’t have to pursue them; we simply have to pursue the Blesser! The key is staying connected to our first love, Jesus, and understanding that we are the body of Christ and that we have been fitly joined together as it pleases Him! You might say, “Well, my opinion is important!” Do you know to whom your opinion is most important? YOU! If you think that you’re the one who’s right all the time . . . then even if you’re right, you’re wrong. How does that work? Well, that type of attitude simply signifies that you’re prideful, unteachable, and do not listen to what other people have to say. You may think that you’re the only one who’s...

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Where Are You Going, and What Are You Doing?

When I leave my first love, it means that I have gone somewhere else. If you leave one place, it signifies that you’ve entered another. From a spiritual standpoint, any time I leave my first love to go somewhere else, I should have just stayed home. When I have left my first love, it means that I have chosen, willfully, to go in another direction. I am now going my way and am doing what I want to do. I’m going to do as I choose; I’m going to do what I think is best. I weigh my options and do what’s best for me instead of first consulting the Highest Authority, the Lord Jesus Christ. “What would You have me to do”? Oftentimes, what He would want me to do does not look exactly like what I wanted to do. In fact, it can be in direct opposition. What Jesus wants me to do can sometimes seem to make no sense at all. In that moment of decision, what will I choose to do? Will I choose what looks best, most expedient, or most profitable . . . or will I choose to follow the lead of my first love? I always come out on top when I have followed God! It may take a little longer to get there by persevering, but it isn’t about “getting rich quick.” This is about obeying the Lord, following my first love, staying connected to Him, and doing what He wills and not what I want to do. Let me make this very clear. He’ll let you do what you want to do. Just because you did it, don’t think you did the will of God. In making that judgment, the first principle to be applied is, “How does it line up with the Word?” If it is clearly NOT in alignment, then it is NOT the will of God. Let’s get that principle firmly established. The writer of Hebrews said that we ought to have our senses exercised in order to be able to discern what is good and what is evil. We know that when we go our own way and make our own decisions without consulting the Lord that it comes back to...

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Are You Shining Armor or Washing Feet

This whole thing called Christianity is about laying down our lives for one another, not who’s coming out ahead, who builds the biggest buildings, who owns the most land, or who has the biggest ministry. Believe me, my friends; all of that stuff is going to burn. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken so that only that which can remain will remain. Jesus said, “If you want to be great in My kingdom, then you must learn to be a servant to all.”  It’s more about washing feet than shining armor. We’re to put on the servant’s apron and wash the feet of others. That’s a sign of leadership. Jesus also said, “This you have, you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” As you may know, “Nico” is where “Nike” is derived from, which means, “to conquer or control,” and that was directed towards the laity. I’m not saying that we don’t need strong leadership; we do! We need courageous leadership, but we don’t need manipulation or ungodly control. That’s not how the Kingdom of God functions. Oh yes, you can do many things in the name of the Lord operating under the guise of leadership . . . there’s all kinds of manipulations and control that go on, but it’s not of the right spirit. It doesn’t come from the heart of the servant. At that point, it’s not about washing feet, it’s about making me look good. We need to get to the place of “me looking good in the eyes of others” is not the most important thing to us. I want to be right with God, and if I’m right with God, I don’t have to care what other people think about me. It really doesn’t matter. I don’t say that in a cocky, arrogant manner. It’s just that I’ve been delivered from man’s opinion of me. I simply want to be right with God! If I’m right with God, there will be some folks who like that, some will be turned off by it, and others could care less. When I stand before my Lord and Savior, I want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” I’m not here for...

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First Love

Oftentimes I feel that we in the Church fall short in this great essential truth that the Word of God sets before us: loving God and loving one another. You might think, “Well, what could make you say that?” I would answer, “By the things that we say, the things that we do, and by our attitudes towards one another.” We are not called to function as the world functions. We are not recreated in Christ Jesus to think as the world thinks, to behave as the world behaves, or to treat one another as though we live in a corporate world. If you live and work in the corporate world, you’re still called, commanded, ordained, and anointed to live and act differently. You can’t separate secular from spiritual. Your work is spiritual. Jesus says, “Love Me like you did when you were first saved. You were full of passion and excitement! You desired to spend time with Me, and you loved me with all of your heart, and it showed!” So He says, “Have a change of heart: repent. Change the direction of your life; do the first works  . . . or else (uh oh, that sounds threatening) . . . I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place.” In other words, I’ll remove the light from your midst; I’ll remove the anointing from your life.How can a man or woman in ministry who has walked in such a great anointing for a lengthy time stumble and fall into sin? It is the result, I’m convinced, of leaving their first love. How is it that those in the Body can be so competitive? I’m telling you that sometimes I get around Christians in ministry, and I might as well be around a bunch of lawyers, bankers, etc. They are competitive and territorial, and this is mine and those are mine, etc. I am so glad that I’m just an undershepherd. Ain’t none of you “mine.” You don’t belong to me. You’re not, “my sheep.” It doesn’t mean that I don’t love you, but it does mean that I don’t own you. Christians become control freaks! What is that the result of? Leaving their first love. Having commended...

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Old Dog Learns Lessons

Many of you are aware that I recently “ran” my first official 10K race. First of all, I want to report that there is good and bad news. The good news: I ran the race, I finished the course that was before me, and I even received a medal at the end. The bad news: I did not finish nearly as well as intended. In fact, I was third to last. What I want to share is that there were a few lessons learned by this old dog! One of those is that young Dominicans run fast! In fact, many of them ran the entire course in half the time it took me, and that’s because they can run twice as fast! I was also able to discern a few parallels between running a 10K race and our spiritual journey. #1 Preparation Is Everything! I came to realize that I was not nearly as prepared for this event as I should have been and could have been. Diet, Rest, and Exercise are of utmost importance (especially the older and more mature we become). It is easy to think, “I’ve got this,” when we have not prepared and planned properly. #2 No Excuses! The truth is that I had slept only about two hours the night before the run. In addition, I could not even find a cup of coffee the morning of the event! I wanted to say, “Forget this, let’s go to the beach instead!” #3 Passion Is Essential! My inner man kept saying, “We will run this race and finish the course.” There was an excitement on the inside that caused me to move forward. I could see myself finishing the race before it even started. #4 This Was A CHALLENGE, Not A COMPETITION! This is perhaps the most important lesson. We are not competing against other runners. We have a challenge set before us, and it is more about accomplishing something that honors God and brings personal reward as well. Those are just a few of the highlights of my experience; there are more. I believe they relate to our spiritual journey as well. We must take time to properly prepare and become “skilled in the Word of righteousness.” Scripture says...

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Our First Love

Let’s turn to the last book of the Bible, Revelation. In the first couple of chapters, the Lord is speaking specifically to the seven churches.

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The Lion, The Cloak, And The Blind Man

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus asked a blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” Now, what do you think a blind man wants? Is Jesus asking a stupid question? No! Jesus wants to hear the confession of faith come out of the blind man’s mouth. When he said, “Lord, that I might see,” he was speaking words of faith. He was saying, “It is possible for You to heal me and to give me my sight.” The blind man I’m referring to above is Bartimaeus. What did Jesus say to him? “Go your way; your FAITH has made you whole.” Now, I want you to pay special attention to this. In Mark 10, what was the first thing that Bartimaeus did when the Lord called for him? He threw off his cloak, which was probably his greatest worldly possession. He may have slept with it at night, and it most certainly protected him and kept him warm. When Jesus called Bartimaeus out of the crowd, the first thing he did was throw off the beggarly cloak as he knew he was about to exit one realm and enter into a whole new one! He was going from being a beggar to being blessed . . . from being blind to having sight. He threw off the garment of bondage, which equated to the chains of his past. There’s a lesson to be learned there. If we’re going to grab hold of everything that God has for us in 2014, then we’re probably going to have to let go of something. What do you have to let go of? Resentment? Bitterness? Anger? Fear? What is the cloak of bondage in your life? What have you become so familiar with or attached to that you’re afraid to let it go? It might be a relationship. I’m telling you: God is speaking expansion and redirection. Redirection means that there is an adjustment in the course of your life, in your business, in your ministry, in your personal life, and/or in your marriage. There’s a cloak that needs to be thrown off. As you throw off that cloak, you will receive the ability to see things more clearly. After Bartimaeus was healed from his...

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Not Too Blind To See

There is a story that I love about Bartimaeus found in the book of Mark. The scene in chapter 10 begins with Bartimaeus on the side of the road. Being blind and hearing a commotion, I’m sure that Bartimaeus asked those around him what was happening. Someone told him that Jesus was passing by. Maybe you have seen a similar place as described above. I have spent some time in Haiti. I don’t know how it is now, but back when I lived there, you could go downtown in Port-au-Prince and see certain intersections that were inundated with beggars. I saw everything to include blind people, those who were missing limbs, mothers with sick babies, and just about every type of misfortune that you could imagine! There were some that looked like they could have been dead, and there were others who wished they were. Every day a group of beggars could be found doing the exact same thing they had done the day before, which was begging for money. I suppose it is fair for us to assume that Bartimaeus probably lived in a similar environment. He was there on the side of the road, heard the noise and commotion of a crowd going by, and then he inquired as to what was going on. Those around him replied, “Jesus of Nazareth is coming”! Suddenly, faith arose in him as he had heard about this Jesus, the Son of David. As faith increased in Bartimaeus, he began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me.” He might as well have said, “Messiah,” as that’s what Son of David means. Everybody was trying to shush Bartimaeus to keep him quiet. They probably said things to him such as, “He doesn’t care about you; you’re just a beggar. You’ve always been blind; you will always be blind. Stop calling out to Him; He’s not going to change your situation. You’re not one of the ‘lucky’ ones.” On the contrary, what Jesus heard was the voice of faith calling out, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” When He heard that faith, He stopped and signaled for Bartimaeus to be brought to Him. Suddenly, those who were trying to get him to shut...

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Willfully Follow

Let’s look at Genesis 12:1. 12 Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God spoke to Abram and said, “I want you to leave the place where you are; leave your house and your family” (paraphrased). Some of you can identify with that type of calling. God said that He wanted Abram to leave where he was in order to get to where He wanted to take him. Now, this is going to sound oversimplified, but we can never get to where we’re going if we’re not willing to leave where we are. That’s an amazing truth. Man, that’s deep, eh? We can’t become what God wants us to become if we’re determined to stay the way we are. Even in regard to our behavior, if we are more attached to the way we currently are than we are attracted to what God wants us to be, then we’ll never change. The thing that needs to take place is that we need to become miserable with the way we are. As long as we’re content with our “normal,” then we’ll never be determined to move in a new direction! Are you getting that? This is important! Some people are content being miserable, go figure. How do I know? Because they never change! All it takes is a simple adjustment. My wife and I sometimes just want to shake people and say, “If you’d just make this little change, you will see a significant difference.” Many times they want to hold on to the old dry bone when God has fresh meat for them. It takes an element of faith. Change requires faith; fear keeps us locked into where we are. Why do the majority of people whom God has called to a foreign land not go? Many times it’s because they’re afraid, or sometimes it’s...

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