STRATEGIC TEACHING DIAGRAM
Spiritual health demands that we are deliberate in focusing on three specific, strategic areas in our life: Known threats, unknown threats and our authentic identity in Christ.
- KNOWN THREATS include truths that we are fully aware of, but have failed to respond rightly to. This may include habitual sin, calls to consecration that go unmet, partial or full disobedience to Scripture or anything else that we know we should do (or not do).
- UNKNOWN THREATS often demand extra emphasis due to the fact that people are fully or mostly unaware. Teaching that results in revelation (the light bulb turning on) is critical if we are to live in victory. Unknown threats are different for everybody and can be quite diverse. The fact that they are unknown makes the threat, whether it's to a victorious life or to our salvation, quite dangerous.
- AUTHENTIC IDENTITY is simply who we are in Christ because of what Christ did for us. Many don't understand their authority, God's love for them, their position in Christ or many other truths that relate to our born-again identity.
The diagram also highlights relationships between focuses:
- Known Threats + Authentic Identity: If we fail to grow in our identity in Christ while also refusing to deal with known threats in our lives, our identity becomes compromised. We can't live according to our new nature because the old nature hasn't been crucified.
- Authentic Identity + Unknown Threats: If we fail to grow in our identity in Christ while also not examining the unknown threats, confusion enters in. We can't understand why we aren't victorious, free, at peace, strong and living a supernatural life.
- Known Threats + Unknown Threats: If we fail to deal with both known and unknown threats, we are in great danger indeed. Our very salvation is at risk as we refuse to live consecrated lives or allow the Spirit of God to search our hearts.
A healthy spiritual life comes when we deal with all three areas. It's important for pastors and ministers to deal with all three as well, though it won't often be in equal measure.
In addition to a minister's specific office, gift mix and vision which can dictate emphasis, the season the ministry is in will determine which focus is most timely and important to deal with.
We should all be reading books, listening to sermons and studying Scripture from the vantage point of all three perspectives. Majoring in one while neglecting another will result in delay or negative progress, or worse.
Listen to short, 5-10 minute teachings AND watch hours of video on Facebook and Youtube!
I want to encourage you to listen to brand new, short, 5-10 minute teachings and prophetic insights on my new podcast, theFurnace.
FACEBOOK & YOUTUBE
Additionally, I just uploaded MANY teaching videos both to Facebook and YouTube.
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Listen to 7 new conference teachings including how to develop a culture of prayer in your life and church from Jasper, Alabama!
Listen to this FREE conference series from Cornerstone Church in Jasper, Alabama online right now!
The first two sessions were specifically for regional pastors and leaders. I taught on how to develop a culture of prophetic prayer in their church. This teaching was based on my recent Charisma Magazine article that can be read HERE.
Here’s the full list of teachings:
- How to Develop a Culture of Prayer in Your Life and Church (Part 1)
- How to Develop a Culture of Prayer in Your Life and Church (Part 2)
- Spiritual Authority
- Revelation Driven Life
- Your Impending Adventure
- Fire From Heaven (Part 1)
- Fire From Heaven (Part 2)
God talks, a lot. What do we do when he’s silent?
One of my great joys in life revolves around helping people discover the wonder of hearing God’s voice. We are all called to be prophetic, which at it simplest simply means that we hear God and respond accordingly.
God talks, a lot.
The stories of God intervening in the lives of his children continually have me in awe of him. I can’t imagine a life devoid of that precious, stunning, other-worldly avenue of communication between this humble, created human and an immeasurable, indescribable, all powerful creator! There’s nothing like being in the zone that results in a regular stream of dreams, visions, prophetic words, fresh revelation and supernatural interactions. I thank God he is still alive and kicking today!
There are also times when God goes silent. I really do not enjoy those seasons, but I’ve come to appreciate them.
Here are some quick points that help me when I enter a silent season:
1. God loves me. Period.
It can be easy to feel rejected, or to presume that God has become tired of me and my weaknesses, when he stops talking.
Remember that God IS love. His passion for us is so extreme that it would be utter foolishness to think that he’d fall out of love with us just because we are experiencing some growing pains.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16 (ESV)
While it's true that God continues to love us, the enemy would love to use God’s silence against him by causing us to fall out of love with him! Be careful not to disengage in your adoration and worship, especially when you don’t feel his loving presence the way you are used to.
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37 (ESV)
2. God uses silence to awaken us to something.
When God stops talking, I go into a time of reflection and personal assessment. It is possible that I need to be more aggressive in shifting into a new season. I might also have a negative heart issue that might need to be dealt with.
During this reflection, however, it's important that I do so with a healthy heart. His silence should draw me closer to him, and not result in division between us. You’ll notice that accusation against God can result in silence:
And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Mark 15:3-5 (ESV)
Is it possible that I have accusation in my heart against God on a matter? Complaint or resistance to his Lordship in my life most certainly can result in Jesus refusing to respond to me. He will go silent, and the last thing we want during silence is more silence!
Instead of becoming more angry or frustrated, I propose we respond as Pilate did: Be amazed. Be humbled by the wisdom and unmovable nature of Jesus. As we do, our remedy is then to sincerely repent and embrace God as he is—whether we appreciate the way he is presently functioning in our lives or not.
3. Busyness will result in silence.
It’s truly rare for God to go silent for long periods of time when I’m praying in the the Holy Spirit, with passion and groans that can’t be uttered, on a continual basis. When I’m in that place of fervent pursuit and deep intimacy it’s uncommon for that electric connection between God and me to cease.
When other things edge out our prayer life, or minimize it, one can only expect to stop hearing from God. Prayer is his medium for communication. The simple, obvious truth is that if we aren’t in that burning, fervent zone of prayer, we won’t have the ability to receive communication from God. When the radio is off the speakers are silent.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)
4. The Bible is never silent.
No matter how deafening God’s Rhema silence might be, the Word of God never ceases to shout!
Dive into the the Bible with determination to see it’s truths explode in your life. Get excited about everything you read and grab hold of all of it!
It's a powerful moment indeed when, at a time of divine silence, the eternal Word of God shakes us, invigorates us and causes our faith to rise. No matter how much or how little you are feeling God's presence in your life, read the Bible and believe every single word you read. It's just not possible to stay frustrated when the very words of God are being seared into our spirits!
Reject your personal experience, history or common sense when those messages conflict with the miraculous messages of Jesus. Reuse to doubt. Declare the Word in prayer. Move mountains with your faith. Don't get frustrated waiting on God to speak personally to you about a matter. He's already speaking more loudly than we have ever considered, in the Bible.
My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Proverbs 3:1-2 (NIV)
5. Nothing should steal your peace or joy.
If God’s silence results in you losing your joy, you might want to refer above to point number two again. He may be attempting to calibrate you to his heart.
Even when God is not speaking, we can and should still remain steadfast in a place of extreme joy, faith and love.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Psalm 32:11 (ESV)
6. Appreciate the calm before the storm of victory.
I’ve noticed my reaction to seasons where God’s activity is slowed directly results in my position in the season that follows. A right response and a refusal to give in to complaint, despair or apathy, and a resolve to go even deeper in God through both the Word and prayer, results in advance and promotion. It also strengthens my character and stretches me into greater maturity. Silence is a necessary part of growth and advance.
I’ve met a lot of people who stop in their tracks when God isn’t talking, opening doors, giving prophetic words or doing other such things to move people forward. God very often will refuse to relate to us in that manner when we are failing tests or ignoring truth that has already been established in Scripture. As we react in a right manner during the silence, and focus on obeying the Word of God, we will pass the test and experience glorious, divine open doors!
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 (ESV)
7. Ask. Seek. Knock.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 (ESV)
You are guaranteed to hear from God if you are unrelenting in your pursuit of him.
If you aren’t given to the sacrifice of seeking, don’t expect to find much of anything. Hearing from God requires a devotion to prayer and interaction with him at a degree that most are not comfortable with.
Press through the crowd and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. Wrestle with God until he blesses you. Cry out from your cave. Refuse to stop until you encounter God’s love, power and glory! It will be well worth the effort.
Why are we waiting around for revival? We can have it any time.
Today's video is a message off the cuff, from the heart, about the condition of today's revival movement.
It's a short, introductory word that will be developed into a more comprehensive teaching soon.
Revival isn't to be nebulous or overly mystical. It's easy to understand and simple to apprehend.
It's an indictment on the condition of today's church that we aren't living revival lives today.
Watch this powerful message HERE.
Watch this powerful video on eradicating lust from our lives…a sin that puts our eternity at risk.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. Matthew 5:27-29 (ESV)
Does anybody still believe that passage of scripture? The message is so abundantly clear that it would require a delusion to come over the church for us to miss it. Yet, in so much of the church today lust is treated as mostly benign and as an expected part of our humanity. The idea that we can live free from any form of sexual lust seems to be laughable.
I’m wrecked as I burn with critical messages that will prepare the church for what is ahead.
21 I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds. Jeremiah 23:21-22 (NIV)
We are hearing endless supposed prophetic words that are happy and positive, without revealing the critical, troubling warnings from Heaven. It's time to repent and to declare the truth of God no matter if it's disturbing or engaging.
God is raising up those he can trust his Word with. His messages will shake us to the core, and he can be trusted to deliver what we need to hear. He needs prophetic voices to also trust God's words, and to deliver them unedited.
I will be leading a new group based on my book Revelation Driven Prayer!
If you are in the Branson/Springfield, Missouri area, I’d like to invite you to a brand new prophetic prayer group!
I will be teaching out of my book Revelation Driven Prayer each week, and we will also be spending time in various expressions of prayer and intercession as well.
This will be a powerful experience and a great place for people of all types—from brand new Christians to seasoned veterans—to grow in prayer in a fun, joyful and casual environment.
The first meeting will take place in my home on Wednesday, September 9th.
If you’d like more info or want directions, contact me directly at [email protected].
I can’t wait to see you there!
(Oh, yes, we’ll have coffee and snacks each week!)
Adultery: The cause for concern in the church is much greater than many realize.
Mark 7:21-23 (ESV) 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
I have found myself sickened and angrier than I’ve been in a long time over the recent controversy surrounding Ashley Madison, a website that makes it easy to commit adultery.
In fact, I am shocked that this can even be considered a controversy. Check out the definition of that word:
controversy: discussion marked especially by the expression of opposing views
Are there really two sides? Is it possible there are those who would argue for the appropriateness of having sexual encounters with people other than their spouse? Unbelievably yes. The darkness is truly getting darker.
Isaiah 5:20 (ESV) 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…
Romans 12:9 (ESV) 9 …Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman recently said, “Up until the creation of AshleyMadison.com, there wasn't really a place where women could go to pursue their desires to have an affair. Now that there is, it's clear that women aren't the more faithful sex – they just hadn't been offered the same opportunities to cheat in the past.”
He continues by saying, “Members are not cheating on their spouse because they're looking for divorce, more often than not they're seeking out an affair to help keep their marriage together.”
Sure, go ahead and read that again. He really said that.
Matthew 12:33-37 (ESV) 33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Mr. Biderman, if you are reading this I implore you to honestly evaluate the extreme destruction you are shamelessly perpetuating. Your actions are reckless and you deserve a stern rebuke. You have brought great pain upon the world and have absolutely devastated people’s lives. Your supposed marital wisdom is embarrassing.
Mr. Biderman, did you know the only reason you were born was to deeply love Jesus Christ and to have a very real, intimate, powerful and holy relationship with him? That is why you are on the earth. That is why you are breathing today!
Through the current scandal God is sounding alarms and flashing lights right at you, crying out for you to turn from wickedness and discover the amazing truth and power of the cross. Jesus was brutally, savagely murdered for you because of love. He would never cheat on you, leave you or forsake you.
I pray for you. Heaven is real and so is Hell. Please consider your life and surrender everything to Jesus, no matter the cost, no matter if you lose your reputation or your millions made through immorality.
CHRISTIANS IN ADULTERY
I’ve heard various reports of Christians being exposed as registered users of Ashley Madison. One source revealed at least 400 pastors were named in the leak. Of course we already know about Josh Duggar who was caught.
Yet, consider this: there are most probably millions of additional Christians who are guilty of adultery yet who have not been exposed. Your spouse very well may be on that list. You may be as well.
Before you dismiss my previous statement as ludicrous, please read the following:
Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
That’s all it takes to be as guilty as every Christian who took advantage of the filth and immorality that AshleyMadison.com provides.
If you reject that as extreme, if you believe there is a significant difference between lusting after another person and actually having a sexual encounter with them, it’s evidence that you don’t truly believe the Word of God. It’s also evidence that the fear of God is not in you.
How many women have Christian men actually committed adultery with? What about women who have fallen for the 50 Shades of Gray deception? This is so intense! If you lust over someone you have fallen into sexual immorality, and that person doesn’t even know they have been violated!
A DEMAND FOR HOLINESS
1 Peter 1:14-16 (ESV) 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Enough is enough! The church has nearly entirely eliminated preaching on sin and holiness! People are living in casual, accepted sin and are convinced that all is well. Their blood is on our hands if we refuse to preach the sharp, unapologetic truth of Scripture.
Sin must stop. The casual approach to wickedness must cease!
Ephesians 4:30 (ESV) 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
NO NAKED PEOPLE
No naked people. That concept seems nearly ridiculous in today’s sexually driven culture.
Sexual images are flashing before our eyes from every angle through media, marketing, video games and other invasive sources.
I’ve actually had Christians challenge me by saying it’s not possible for a man to avoid lust, as if it’s an expected part of our make up! I heard about another who said that the Bible doesn’t forbid lust, only lusting about married women! The culture is causing many hopeless and some defiant Christians to believe that freedom from sexual fantasy is not possible, or even necessary. God help this nation.
My wife, two daughters and I were walking through a mall in Wisconsin recently. We were stopped in our tracks right by the food court where families with impressionable children were scattered all around. There was a massive mural that stretched from floor to ceiling of a nearly naked woman. My wife immediately said, “I’m going in there to complain to the manager.” So, into Victoria’s Secret she went.
You might be thinking, “Where have you been the last few decades John? This type of imagery is everywhere!” Yes, that is true. Sadly. Since this is the case, do we simply surrender to the culture? My thought is that Christians are to take dominion and be the drivers of the culture. We can’t sit back and give up. We must fight! However, before that battle can truly begin in the malls and movie theaters, we have to wage war at home—in our own minds.
Consider how far our culture has fallen—including the culture of the church where only 3% of Christian men admit that they never view pornography! Per the Barna Group, 97% of Christian men are actively looking at porn! 87% of Christian women are entertained by pornography! Many Believers don’t “believe” it’s necessary to abstain from sex before marriage. My God!
Check out how it all began:
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3:4-7
The serpent pleaded his case by telling Eve that she would not surely die if she enjoyed a deadly fruit that promised a deeper personal experience. The fruit was pleasing to the eye, and Adam agreed. We can see the striking similarities between the first sin and today’s rampant sexual sin. What is different is that they recognized their sin—and covered up their nakedness. Today? While Christians aren’t joining nudist colonies, they are embracing and celebrating nudity by enjoying that forbidden fruit in their minds. Today’s Christians have naked people performing sexual acts in their thoughts that are strictly and clearly forbidden by Scripture.
Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes… Proverbs 6:25
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant…” Exodus 20:17
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. Matthew 5:27-30
I know there are many out there who will disagree with my position regarding eternity, but I firmly believe that continuing in the sin of lust (or any other sin) can result in eternal separation from God. The above passage of scripture in Matthew 5 speaks to this very directly. The reason I want to make this point is so you don’t casually dismiss this warning. Your eternity is at stake if you are entertaining lust. This is a battle we must fight with passion!
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27
The results of lust are tragic. In addition to the possibilities of destroyed marriages, illegal sexual activity and other natural repercussions, I submit the most terrible result is what Adam and Eve both experienced:
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:8-10
Separation from God. As I stated above, we risk being separated from God forever. We also risk being separated from God now. Those who are in bondage to porn and lust would easily admit they feel that separation. Just as Adam and Eve hid because of their nakedness, Christians today are missing out on their walks with God in the cool, refreshing garden.
Adam and Eve lost their intimacy with God. I propose they started to lose it before their banishment from the garden. There was a void there, and they sought to fill it with something unholy.
By the grace of God I’ve been blessed to be free from the traps and destruction of pornography, and I am humbled to say that God has enabled me to live lust free.
Several years ago I was deep in the Rocky Mountains on a prayer and fasting retreat. It was just God and me in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. I was connecting with God about a variety of things that night and a simple thought entered my mind.
Even though I was living a sexually pure life, I had a question for God. I’ll be transparent with you and share it.
If God’s design for sex is the perfect model, which it is, then it should bring the highest level of satisfaction. There should be absolutely no other competing desire that’s compelling enough to give in to. If this is the case, why would this happily married man who has the most amazing wife on the planet have an occasional temptation enter his mind? Why would the thought of thinking about someone other than my wife in a sexual way be the least bit tempting? Please understand, I wasn’t acting out on that temptation, but the question remained. Why is the temptation even there?
I understand today that most married people fantasize about people other than their spouses. That reality caused further curiosity. Again, if God’s design for sex is the best, why is there temptation for an alternative?
God spoke simply and clearly. “The one you are intimate with is the one you will desire.”
Intimacy. It’s all about intimacy.
That made so much sense to me! It’s true! When I am emotionally connected with my wife in an intimate way, any other competing thought would be an unwelcome invasion. It’s easy to reject such thoughts when I’m connected in a deep way relationally with her. However, in those seasons where we may be a little more distant due to busyness, stress or arguments (yeah, get over it…we argue it out sometimes!) then intimacy is negatively impacted. It’s easier to desire other things and to find temptation pressing in.
Of course, the same is true with God. If we are madly in love with him and are cultivating intimacy, the unrighteous invasions into our lives will be soundly rejected. We will guard our love connection with God jealously. This is where holiness dominates in a sin wrecked world. Can you imagine trembling before the Lord as his glory overwhelms you and then, five minutes later, watching a movie with nudity and foul language? That makes no sense.
I propose we refuse to be entertained by anything in media or in our thoughts that required the brutal torture and murder of the one we love. That unholy sexual fantasy required the death of Jesus. The cussing and sexual content in movies demanded the nine inch nails that were driven through his flesh. The simple lustful image that tries to dance around in our heads isn’t simple at all. It took a slaughtered Lamb to deal with that.
That slaughtered Lamb is the lover of your soul. His passion is for you!
You can find powerful and satisfying freedom from lust as you draw near to the Lord.
…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:21-22
THE COMMAND TO LOVE
Let’s talk about the call to love. This is the call that God has for us to be intimate with him. Have you ever considered this mandate? It’s very, very intriguing. I can understand calling someone to serve, to give money, to feed the poor or to avoid sin. That makes sense very easily. However, a mandate to love?
Certainly the act of love in many ways is fully intentional and can often be void of feeling. We act in love toward others. This is also quite easy to understand. But this idea goes well beyond a call to act out in right ways. It’s a call to intimacy, a mandate to be deeply intimate with our Lover.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 (NKJV)
In the original Hebrew, the word love is ahab.
It means: to have affection for, sexually or otherwise.
Additionally it means to like as a friend.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I can be forced to like anybody, much less have deep affection for them. But this is what Scripture is telling us. Could it mean that the call isn’t for instant intimacy, but rather a determined and unwavering process of pursuit and faith toward the promise of experiencing an enjoyable God?
As we, in faith, more easily believe that being with God in a continual and significant way will result in continual and significant enjoyment, we will allow the old things to pass away. We will not stop until we discover the joy that only God can provide.
So, if we are to understand that God is mandating us to fall deeply in love with Him, there is a disciplined process that must commence. The goal is deep and passionate intimacy with our Lover, the invisible God.
It makes sense that when we discover this ultimate of pleasures, that we will not be as inclined to pursue the human desires that demanded so much of us in years past. It’s been said more times and in more ways than we know, “Our sin causes separation from God. We, in effect, trade intimacy with God for intimacy with the world.”
Certainly there is truth to that statement. However, if we view the issue from the other side, we could say, “Intentional pursuit of intimacy with God carries with it the reward of perpetual discovery. Deliberate surrender of human desire coupled with a craving for the manifest presence of God Himself in our lives will lead, sooner or later, to fulfillment that cannot be measured or effectively explained. It’s that extreme. It’s that good.”
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you … Matthew 5:43-44 (NKJV)
In the above passage, the Hebrew interpretation of the word “love” is different than ahab. It is agapaō, which emphasizes the attitude of love. It’s the moral and socially appropriate act of service and attention to others, including both mankind and God Himself.
Throughout Scripture we do see various translations of that single word “love”, and God is the central figure regardless of the interpretation. However, it’s that unique call to ahab love that has captured my attention. It’s a mandate to intimacy.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, If you find my beloved, That you tell him I am lovesick! Song of Songs 5:8 (NKJV)
Lovesick! What a word that is. As you might guess, the Hebrew translation is ahab. In the Song of Songs we see this amazing story of love unfold beautifully. In the following verses the word “love” is translated ahab each time. As we gain insight into the intimate longing of our God for us, our hearts melt and our understanding changes.
“I will rise now,” I said, “And go about the city; In the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love.” I sought him, but I did not find him. The watchmen who go about the city found me; I said, “Have you seen the one I love?” Song of Songs 3:2-3 (NKJV)
[The Shulamite to the Daughters of Jerusalem] He brought me to the banqueting house, And his banner over me was love. Sustain me with cakes of raisins, Refresh me with apples, For I am lovesick. His left hand is under my head, And his right hand embraces me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the does of the field, Do not stir up nor awaken love Until it pleases. Song of Songs 2:4-7 (NKJV)
He made its pillars of silver, Its support of gold, Its seat of purple, Its interior paved with love By the daughters of Jerusalem. Song of Songs 3:10 (NKJV)
How fair and how pleasant you are, O love, with your delights! Song of Songs 7:6 (NKJV)
[The Shulamite to Her Beloved] Set me as a seal upon your heart, As a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised. Song of Songs 8:6-7 (NKJV)
Read the last passage, Song of Songs 8:6-7, over and over. Its communication of passionate desire is intense. As we establish a vow with our Lover, the intentional and disciplined pursuit of intimacy with Him is alluring and strong. It is a vehement flame that even water, the fierce enemy of fire, cannot drown. It’s this that we are pursuing, the fire of passion that will overcome the waters of human desire.
In the following Song of Songs passage, we discover a different translation of love.
Draw me away! [The Daughters of Jerusalem] We will run after you. [The Shulamite] The king has brought me into his chambers.
[The Daughters of Jerusalem] We will be glad and rejoice in you. We will remember your love more than wine.
[The Shulamite] Rightly do they love you.
Song of Songs 1:4 (NKJV)
The Hebrew word used for “love” in the part of the passage that says, “We will remember your love more than wine” is dôd. The literal meaning is to boil. The idea is that God’s love is actively boiling. It’s hot and constant and intentionally set on us.
The enemy of human desire is a very strong one. A simple resolution to avoid sin and do good is far too weak to be seriously considered for inclusion in our arsenal. The burning fire of passion for God, ahab love, is our most effective weapon. The reward of the perpetual discovery of new depths of God’s zeal for us is enough to keep us burning with a vehement flame that the waters of carnal human desire cannot put out.
Yes, my friend, you can be completely free from lust, and you can live a powerful, joyful life full desire for Jesus.
If you are struggling with lust, don’t despair. Don’t quit contending for intimacy with God. You can absolutely find freedom! God loves you with a passion that’s deep…and he is longsuffering. He will be with you in your journey to freedom.
I pray for radical freedom to overwhelm you as you discover wave after wave of the other worldly, immeasurable love of Jesus! You were born for this!
Let’s make a decree over this nation together. We release a spirit of awakening, revival and holiness. As we go hard after God we will entertain NO NAKED PEOPLE. Not in media or in our minds. Amen!
Watch today’s powerful video! God has called us to consider others more significant than ourselves. It’s time to be free from pride driven entitlement.
It’s time for the spirit of entitlement to be eradicated from the church and the nation.
We must go low, serve others and quit making demands that promote our special interests.
Everywhere we look people are demanding what is presumably rightfully theirs. This spirit of entitlement drives major, evil movements today such as abortion, homosexuality, feminism. It’s also fueling crusades and campaigns that are generally good, but tainted because of this foul spirit.
What if we stopped focusing on our own rights and started loving people even if it costs us comfort, money and vindication?
In a self-centered, narcissistic world one can only presume entitlement would be in the mix as well. This attitude is doing great harm to our testimony as Christians in addition to creating a proud, lazy people who expect to be served instead of to serve.
23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (ESV)
We can presume we are entitled to something because it seems right. If other people stand in the way of what is rightfully ours, we might presume we have the right to obtain it—even at the cost of others. It might be lawful for us, but is it helpful? Does our pursuit of that build others up?