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"But when you are separated from Me, you are powerless" TO LOVE.
How can I love like Jesus? How can I obey Him to love my neighbor as myself when I don't love myself? How can I love myself and my neighbor if I don't know what love looks like? If a child wasn't loved by her parents who brought her into the world, then how does she know what love is?
These are all of the questions that I asked myself when I became serious about following Jesus. I read Jesus' words in the book of Mark, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:21), and it stumped me. I knew that I desired to be loved, just like every other human being on this earth. My hunger for love was deep because as a child, I experienced neglect and abuse from my parents who were supposed to love and protect me. I realize now as an adult, that my parents failed to show me what love looks like, because they themselves were not the recipient of love by their parents. I'm sure they tried to love their children in the best way they knew, but if they didn't have the substance of love themselves, then how were they supposed to give it away? Where does one get the substance of love?
I began a quest to find this love that I read and heard about. I wanted it so very badly! I sought out to find the substance of love, as one searches to find gold. Then one day, I read in God's Word, "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love" (1 John 4:8ESV). GOD IS LOVE! Now I discovered where to get this love that I so desired! God! As I continued to draw closer to God and desire the love that I knew He could give me, I chose to take part in a series of workshops where I could learn more about being filled with the Holy Spirit. During one of those sessions, I read a list of the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit found in the book of Galatians, and BAM! There it was! A fruit of the Holy Spirit is LOVE! With this realization, I was desperate to have the life of the Holy Spirit to fill me so then I would have the POWER TO LOVE!
When the leaders of the workshop prepared to pray over me to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they told me to ask God for gifts of the Holy Spirit. I had learned of the 9 gifts of the Spirit found in 1 Corinthians 12, in addition to the 9 fruits. As I considered gifts to ask God for, such as miracles, prophecy and healing, the one thing that I asked God for was LOVE. I went through this workshop several more times in the years to follow and each time, I asked God for the same thing, the fruit of LOVE.
In order for me to bear the fruit of love in my everyday life, I need to be connected to the Vine, Jesus Christ. I learned of this truth while reading in the book of John (chapter 15:1-17). I felt God say to me that I will bear the fruit of love if I remain connected to (or abide in) the Vine. "As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you, but when you live separated from me, you are powerless" (John 15:5TPT). As I read the following verses in this chapter, I see the word LOVE listed over and over. Jesus said in verses 9 and 10, "I love each of you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts...for I continually live nourished and empowered by His love." We learn from Jesus' life as told to us in the New Testament that Jesus went to be alone to pray to the Father on a frequent basis. Jesus chose to remain connected to the Father, and it was in that place of intimacy with Him, that He received the power to love all people, including Peter who denied Him, Judas who betrayed Him, and Malchus who came to arrest Him as if He were a hardened criminal.
If we remain connected to Jesus, the Vine, then we will have the power to love, even when faced with hatred. We will have the power to obey Jesus' words, "So this is my parting command: Love one another deeply" (John 15:17TPT). We simply do not possess authentic, pure and powerful love in our mortal flesh. We may try to love without the Spirit of God, but we will fail. Our attempts to love without God, the source of pure love, will end up being artificial. Unfortunately, people are so desperate for love, that they often settle for this kind of love. They talk themselves into believing that what they are feeling or receiving is true love, but it really is not.
Because I have remained connected to the Vine, God has filled with the love needed to forgive my mother for neglecting me and my father for abusing me. I also came to understand why my parents were unable to love me the way that I needed them to. They were not connected to the Vine, Jesus Christ.
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“Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” Hebrews 4:7
One cause of hard-heartedness is the presence of apathy. The definition of apathy is "complete lack of emotion about a human being, a thing or an activity." Apathy is our enemy. We must reject this bitter spirit. We must choose to love. We must choose to feel. God is an emotional God. The Bible says that He created us in His image. He masterfully created our hearts to experience many emotions, such as love and joy, but also anger and sorrow.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary says "apathy, impassivity, and indifference all denote a lack of responsiveness to something that might normally excite interest or emotion; apathy suggests a puzzling lack of passion; impassivity stresses the absence of any external sign of emotion in action or facial expression." Jesus was not passive or indifferent, nor did He behave with apathy. He was filled with emotions and His emotions (or passions) led Him to act. When He saw an injustice, He was filled with emotion and was led to try to put an end to it. We see an example of this in a story found in the book of Matthew. Here we see Jesus filled with righteous anger when He observed that His Father's house was not being treated with reverence. We read, "Jesus entered the temple area and drove out those engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves" (Matthew 21:12).
Many people think that if they get angry then they are sinning. Jesus got angry in this account, and yet, the Bible tells us that Jesus was without sin. "He made Him who knew no sin" (2 Corinthians 5:21). What is a sin, is if someone has offended us in word or deed, and we let our anger fester and turn into hatred. And if hatred is allowed to live in our hearts, then this becomes murder. The Bible says, "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" (1 John 3:15). This Biblical concept reminds me of a scene from a well-known true story called The Hiding Place, which tells of the life of Corrie Ten Boom, who endured the horrors of a concentration camp during WWII. Corrie had just witnessed her sister Betsy get beaten by a female prison warden when Betsy approaches her and says, "No, don’t hate, Corrie. You must love and forgive.” Corrie knew that she was unable, so she prayed to God and felt that He reminded her of a Scripture, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). She goes on to say, “At that moment, when I was able to forgive, my hatred disappeared." It is only by the grace of God that we can allow our hearts to love in the face of hatred.
We must not allow any part of our heart to harden, because if we do, then we become unfeeling toward others, ourselves and God. When we build a fortress around our hearts, it becomes easy to give into the enemy's temptations, such as to kill ourselves, to take another person's life in revenge or to blatantly work for the devil as a witch who chooses to curse God and His people. I know of a "church woman" who put a hit out on a man who raped her handicapped sister. She felt justified in releasing vengeance against her sister's perpetrator. I know of a man who bought a gun and went to the house of the man who was having an affair with his wife. In both these cases, hatred had settled in their hearts, and a spirit of murder crept in through the door. By the grace of God, neither person went through with their act of hatred.
A hard heart can also manifest in passivity, which is often found in association with apathy. The definition of passivity is "acceptance of what happens without active response or resistance." Passivity keeps us from taking action to stop an act of injustice. We often read of stories in the news where people idly stand by and watch a terrible crime unfold in front of them. Another example is a person who hears his neighbor beating his wife and does not call the authorities to put an end to it. Apathy, passivity and indifference have crept into these hearts. They have chosen to put up fortresses around their hearts so that they don't have to feel, because feelings can be painful. However, we see throughout Jesus' years of ministry, how He was filled with compassion for others, and this caused Him to do an action that relieved others of their pain and burdens. Compassion is the opposite of apathy. The definition of compassion is "sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others; feeling or sensitivity; soft-heartedness; or brotherly love." Jesus displayed compassion in this account found in Matthew, "Jesus was deeply moved with compassion...He touched their eyes and instantly they could see!" (Matthew 20:34TPT). Because Jesus shared the sorrow found in the hearts of the blind men, it caused Him to want to do something to relieve them of their sorrow. Jesus clearly did not possess a spirit of passivity.
Jesus was filled with sympathy. The meaning of sympathy is "understanding between people; or support in the form of shared feelings." We see an example of Jesus' sympathy in the book of John when Mary was weeping because her brother Lazarus had died. "When Jesus saw her weeping...He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled...Jesus wept" (John 11:33-35). Jesus shared Mary's feelings and so we see that Jesus displayed sympathy or soft-heartedness. I did an internet search and found an article that lists 23 Bible verses in Jesus' 3 years of ministry that speaks of Jesus having compassion and some include that He wept.
Tears are a sign that a heart is soft and feeling. A heart that weeps is a heart that is alive When the Tin Man wept in the movie The Wizard of Oz, he said, "Now I know I've got a heart!" Over the years, I've heard several people tell me, "I haven't cried in years!" These people may have the weed of apathy growing in their hearts.
My fellow-Christ followers, let's choose to love and feel. Let's pray and ask God to soften the hardened areas of our hearts with His hot, liquid love. Let's ask Him to pull out the weeds of apathy, passivity and indifference and cause the flowers of love, compassion and sympathy to grown in their place. May we pray and believe God's promise for us...“God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
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To seduce means to entice someone into sexual activity; attract into sexual activity; attract powerfully; attract someone into a course of action that is foolhardy; lure or tempt.
There are 2 voices that claim to love; one is a voice that comes from the spirit of seduction, and the other is a voice that comes from the spirit of God. Both voices speak of love. Seduction says "Come, let us drink our fill of love," (Proverbs 7:18); and the spirit of God (Holy Spirit) says "Eat friends, drink! Drink freely of love!" (Song of Solomon).
The love we read of in the book of Song of Solomon is a pure and authentic love; love that gives life to one's spirit and soul (which leads to eternal life). The love we read of in chapter seven of the book of Proverbs is a fabrication or counterfeit love; a love that leads to death; death to the spirit as well as the soul (eternal damnation). The definition of fabricate is to invent or concoct, typically with deceitful intent; counterfeit.
How do we know pure love from counterfeit love? 1 John 4:8 tells us "God is love." We need to get to know God, and He will teach us what authentic love looks like. We need to ask Him to fill us with His Spirit so that His love will fill us and pour out of us. Once we know LOVE, Godly love, then we will be able to discern impure love; love that Seduction entices us to "drink." Don't do it! Don't even take a sip! It'll lead to your death! Run away! Run into the arms of God.
Continuing in Proverbs, we read, "She wins him over by her repeated urging; with her smooth lips she leads him astray. He follows her stupidly, like an ox that is led to slaughter" (Proverbs 7:21-22). You may be a married man whom Seduction entices to click on the blinking pop-up picture that you know leads to a porn site. Don't do it! It'll lead to the sin of adultery. It'll lead to you cheating on your wife. Shut it down. Run to your Bible. Jesus said "I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery in his heart" (Matthew 5:8). Or maybe you are a wife who's been married for 18 years and you haven't received the affections of your husband in months. Seduction may tell you that you deserve to be loved so you should accept the bouquet of flowers that a co-worker gave you. Don't be deceived! Look behind the cunning voice and you will find an evil snake that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy your life (John 10:10).
You may be a lonely 25-year-old, single woman whom Seduction tempts to accept a date's offer to just come up to his place for 1 coffee before you say goodbye. Seduction may tell you that you've waited long enough and that you can't abstain from sex any longer. Don't listen to that voice! Don't even take a sip of the counterfeit love that Seduction is offering you. Run into the arms of your Beloved Jesus who will offer you love that is authentic. Or maybe you are a young man who recently overcame same-sex attractions. Seduction may tempt you to make a quick stop at your old stomping grounds just to say hello to your old friends. Don't do it! Run to God's Word instead! His Word says "Let not your heart turn to her ways...for many are those she has struck down dead" (Proverbs 7:25-26).
My fellow Christ-followers, let's listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and choose purity, which leads to authentic love and life. And let's reject the voice of Seduction, the snake that leads to counterfeit love and death. Jesus said, "I have come that they would have life, and have it to the fullest" (John 10:10).
Fear Out. Faith In.
If I Only Had A Heart
Is Your Heart Soft Or Hard?
Love Or Lies?
Lust Vs. Love
NO MORE SECRETS
Sex Trafficking In My Backyard
The Church Has Left The Building
What Does Love Look Like