April 19, 2004 – THE POWER OF LOVE

Many of you have found the “Giver” of Life, but not the secret hiding place of the treasures in Christ.  PSALM 91:1  He who dwells in the shelter (IN THE SECRET PLACE  KJV) of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  2  I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 

“I can go where I want to go and do what I want to do” as the song says, but there are rewards and judgments at the end. Fourteen years ago, I wrote a letter to my granddaughter Lesa, and I would like to quote from it.  “We only get to act out our life once…..and when the act is over we cannot change the performance.  To insure eternal success we must invite Christ to live in and through us in every step we take.  When we elect to live through Him we initiate opportunities for miracles and possibilities that would otherwise be impossible.”

God has made us responsible for our own sins and works.  It is all a matter of what we do with what God has given each one of us (our character, nature and talents). We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ if our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (1PETER 1:17  Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.) Or the great white throne of judgment (~Judgment at the Throne of God) REVELATION 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.  12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.  14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.  15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

No wonder God says it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  A rich man must daily contend with life in the world and the magnetic pull of the world is fierce.  The riches of the world have no heavenly value unless the riches are used in great measure to further the kingdom of God (in essence it becomes a calling).  Many simply make the world and its pleasures their number one priority. Others hear a call to the service of their King and seek a kingdom to come.  They are not really at home in the world because they seek a heavenly city.  In every case, it is important “why” we choose our role in life.  The “why” will tell you where your heart is and what kind of treasure you are laying up in Heaven.

To seek God’s kingdom, a kingdom that we cannot see or touch, seems foolish to those that have not been born into the kingdom. 1CORINTHIANS 2:14 the man without the spirit does not accept the things that come from the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to Him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The only treasures that will remain are those that are done in the name of Christ and for the kingdom’s sake.  What motivated the girl from who gave her life in Iraq after only knowing Christ a very few years? What motivates one to excel in the pursuit of Christ and God’s perfect will?  Does fear motivate? Only for a period of time.  Do they have a calling that others do not receive?  Not in the beginning. I wrestled with many questions Sunday night about why some Christians grow and develop and others are stunted.  At what point in their life does a person make Christ their top priority, the kingdom of God their mission and the world only a place to gather fruit for his kingdom and to support oneself and the work of God.  What makes the difference?  Commitment yes!!!! But that isn’t the perfect answer.  Lord, I prayed, “what is the strong motivator in us that will not accept anything less than meeting God’s perfect will for our lives? What will keep us from compromising our commitment?  Without faith, we cannot please God, so faith is extremely important.  Without faith, we would not even begin the walk with God.  So, there is something we need even beyond faith. HEBREWS 11:33  who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,  34  quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.  35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 

Monday morning I awakened early, prayed, studied and then God gave me this scripture: 1JOHN 3:16  This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  The great motivator is to love enough to lay down our lives for Christ and for others. JOHN 12:25   The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  The man who loves the Christ within Him more than he loves his own life has found the “reason” and the “desire”  necessary to crucify the man of the flesh within Him and give his all to Christ. Love for Christ is the great motivator.

1CORINTHIANS 13:13  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love .  JOHN 15:13   Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 

MATTHEW 10:37   Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;  38   and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  39   Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 

What are the advantages to losing my life to Christ? A life devoted to Christ brings blessings that you cannot experience any other way, and a close friendship and fellowship with God. It brings peace and security because you totally rest in God.  Have you ever wondered why one person seems to have a more intimate relationship to God?  Surrendering all because you love God, brings an intimacy with God that the world knows nothing about.  The more you love God, the more love from God and others you receive. I discovered this fact personally in the last several months.  I have been praying for God to increase my love for Him and recently I awakened to the fact that he has greatly increased my love for Him and for others, and my intimacy with Him has increased.  He has literally surrounded me with love.  I wanted to make sure that my commitment to Him could not be compromised so I began to earnestly examine my own heart and discovered I wanted my love for Him to go deeper and higher.  “Ask and you will receive”.  JOHN 15:14   you are my friends if you do what I command.  15   I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 

How much do you love me?  Christ thought it very important for Peter to examine the depth of his love.  Three times he had denied Christ and three times Christ asked him to consider how much he loved Him.  ~The Love Motivation JOHN 21:15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”  17 The third time he said to Him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked Him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.  ~Our Times Are in His Hand  18   I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to Him, “Follow me!”  Christ knew Peter was going to face martyrdom and he wanted Peter to deeply consider his love for Him.  Oh, how Peter needed to know that he had the love required to face the cross he must carry.

We all love at varying degrees because we each have a different capacity for love. However, we can level the field by praying for the Lord to increase our love for Him and His kingdom.

At what point in life does a person make Christ their priority, the kingdom of God their mission and the world only a place to gather fruit and to support oneself and the work of God? That decision is made when we love God enough to make a total commitment because love overcomes all our fears.

Love is the greatest motivator of our actions.

2JOHN 1:6  And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 

JOHN 14:20   On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  21   Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love Him and show myself to Him.