Take No Less Than Jesus
I went to bed last night with a familiar feeling of conviction. I prayed, once again, for His forgiveness, telling Him, once again, my frustration over my heart, and asking, once again, that His love overwhelm my heart. I know He has heard every one of those prayers in the past. I know that in this past year, as I have prayed that prayer almost daily, He has been leading me with His loving, gentle, nevertheless, firm Voice. I had been memorizing John. If John said nothing else, he said, “Love!” And it didn’t just stop at the end of his Gospel message; 1-3 John proclaim the very same thing. John may have had poetry in his soul, but he also had simplicity in his pen. Love.
We want to break it a part. We want to say, “How?” We want to make it circumstantial and particular and specific, but John, he knew that in every circumstance, in every particular, and in every specific, the answer would always be simplistic – Love. He wrote about the “how” in his Gospel. The “how” is the “Who” – we will find no greater visual aid than Jesus…but we try to, don’t we? We claim we need tangible, real life, right now. Basically, we want someone who isn’t Jesus to show us how to really live. We say the way Jesus lived is just too…godly. We can’t possibly measure up to that – we’ll fail all the time! We talk ourselves right out of whole-hearted devotion and obedience and love; we talk Jesus right down from His ability to be the risen King in our lives. Distraction! “The enemy comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy…” (John 10:10) And he will; with every inch we give him in our minds and hearts, he will take a mile. He’ll pet and coddle us just enough to entrap us (Letting us believe that we are but humans, surely God couldn’t expect that from us; He knows how hard this is for us, he’ll understand if we just let this be who we are even if it doesn’t align with His heart.), just until we’re far enough away from our Jesus and close enough to him to steal our devotion, to kill our faith, and to destroy our souls, our relationships, our earthly lives, and our eternities.
So, that’s the enemy. He may be sneaky, but his plot and ploys are not new; they may come in different wrappings but, no, they are not new. He takes the beautiful simplicity of the life God gives and he twists it with self-focused questions because he knows if we simply obey, if we simply trust, if we simply live according to God’s Word without getting distracted by the way it makes us feel, then he will truly have no hold on us. The enemy has already been eternally defeated; Jesus took care of that once and for all! The only victories he can have now lie solely in our hands. If he wins, it’s because we give him the victory.
Oh, brothers and sisters, let us rise up – with that very real resurrection power within us – and shout, “No More!” “No More!” will my selfishness trump the love I should be displaying for my spouse, for my children, for my relatives, for my friends, for my church family, for my in-laws (!), for my…enemies. “No More!” will I trade the fruit of His Spirit for the spoiled fruit of my flesh. “No More!” will I try and justify my sin with my human-ness, basically denying Jesus’ very presence within me. (If He is your Lord and Savior – your King – then you are not merely “humans”…you are more than conquerors in Him! Don’t deny His power!) “No More!” will I say, “This is just who I am…I’m set in my ways…I can’t (won’t) change.” He is in the business of making all things new! “No More!” will I live in unforgiveness, thinking my hurts are my justification. There is no hurt greater than what held our Jesus on a splintering, wooden cross for our sakes. “No More!” will I deny the love of Christ for me and all mankind by ignoring what He did, to make myself feel better. “No More!” will I make more of me and less of Him. “No More!” will I stand for my glory (recognition) and trample on His.
The above is my battle cry; it’s the pre-game huddle up with the Coach. When I’m on my runs, this is the kind of stuff I pound my feet on the ground to. But in the stillness of my early morning, it was the gentle, loving Voice of my Abba (Daddy) that woke me and blessed me. (Remember, I had gone to bed after repenting, again.)
5:00 a.m. – opened my eyes, the internal debate on whether or not to close them back or roll out and put the coffee on for me and the Father (So, He probably doesn’t require coffee, but I’m glad He’s supplied it for my need.)
5:09 a.m. – pour said first cup of coffee
5:10 a.m. til around 5:20 a.m. – He speaks His Truth over me in the only way He does it – in Love.
“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. 2 Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 3 And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure. 4 Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. 5 And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. 6 Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is. 7 Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. 8 But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. 9 Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. 10 So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. 11 This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another… 13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. 16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? 18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God…23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us. (1 John 3)”
5:20ish-5:58ish a.m. – After Father spoke, a song of response and praise was recalled…
(if you’d rather hear) http://youtu.be/dLDGVl8D5UU
“How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
And make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulder
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom”
And when the storm is passed, the brightness for which He is preparing us will shine out unclouded, and it will be Himself.” ~Mother of Bill Graham
Himself! For all our sin, all our suffering, all our redemption, all our joy…for all our eternity, Jesus offers Himself! There is no more to give than that, and He will not make us settle for less. He gave all so you may have all. Take no less than Jesus.