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Loving or following
In Matthew 23, Jesus tries to get the attention of some religious leaders. They should have been lovers or at least followers. They had the knowledge of the scriptures and where considered experts on anything God related. They were the best at following rules. Following the rules kept them focused on the outside of their heart. The inside of their hearts did not match their outside.
Jesus condemned these men, because their hearts where not wholly in love with God. They followed God’s rules, but they did not share love with Him.
Maybe you know some Christians that are acting like Christians, talking like Christians, involved with Christian music; but have never fallen in love with God. These Christians are focusing on acting like Christians instead of using the religion to develop a deeper love relationship with God.
Or maybe they are Christian workers. They measure their faith by their hard work at learning about how they can put their faith into action. Their target is to be the hardest workers and saying the right things while their doing the right things. The trouble with that approach is that it is not who they are. It’s not enough for God. He wants all of them.
They look real good. They have their part down pat. They know what to say and what not to say. They can pray the prayers and they can sing the songs. Their heart, the most important factor, is not in it.
Your focus on the inside/outside
The main problem Jesus had with these religious leaders was that they were hypocrites. He called them that, eight times. Jesus said in verse 5: Everything they do is for show. He also went on to say: But do not what they do, for they do not practice what they preach (v 3).
Jesus condemns those who were trying to impress others through their religious credentials. Jesus took the reverse approach, being tender and encouraging to those who have share their love with Him. His lovers need to be authentic.
What God wants in a lover – someone who isn’t pretending on the outside to have it all together. That’s one of the ways the word hypocrisy is defined, as “the act of pretending.”
In verses 27 – 28 Jesus goes on to say: You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy …
On the inside their faith has grown cold and was dying.
Choosing following over a loving relationship
In verse 13, Jesus gives a number of indicators that the outside had become more important than the inside: Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you Hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
They taught that God’s love and Jesus’ salvation was something that had to be earned. When we learn to truly love God, we find that obedience to God comes from the inside out. Submission to what God wants for our lives flows naturally out of a shared love relationship. It’s not to say that what we do or don’t do doesn’t matter, but what we do or don’t do must come from that loving relationship.
Just like the Pharisees in the Bible, some Christians look like good Christians; but they neglect to share God’s love with Him and others. When looking good becomes more important than sharing love with God; they are aiming at the wrong target.
They find themselves weary of trying to look good in hopes of somehow earning God’s favor without giving up control to God and keep up their secular life. When all they have to do is to: Keep company (love relationship) with me and You’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matt 11:30).
Missing what really Matters
In verses 23-24 of Matthew 23, Jesus says: … But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – Justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the later, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! …
In the Christian Church we need to emphasize sharing love with God and everything else will fall into place over time.
Where does Jesus catch your attention in this passage? What practices touch close-to-home in your life? How can you avoid what is preached against in this passage? ___________________________
How can you avoid making it hard for others to grow spiritually? __________________________
What about today’s church do you lament over (as Jesus did over Jerusalem)? ______________
From reading this passage, what should today’s teachers and pastors be especially mindful of? How have you seen the “power of the pulpit” used? ____________________________
Do you feel Jesus is a little too tough on the Pharisees? On you? Why or Why not? ___________
God declares that He will faithfully remove the created things which can be shaken – the shakable kingdom. Why? So, that the unshakeable may remain. Created things give cultural Christianity its toehold. Created things defeat us and choke the Word – the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth (Matthew 13:22).
When we cross over the line and refuse Him who speaks, He will separate us from the created things – the idols, the shakeable kingdom – which dilute our devotion to him. If we cannot remain obedient, if we cannot be holy, then He will discipline us for our own good, “that we may share in His holiness.” …
Do not be alarmed if God shakes up your world. Though your first natural thought will disagree, it is a blessing. It is not a sign that you are unworthy – every one of us is unworthy. It is not a sign of hatred, but love. If He did not love you, He would let you completely self destruct. As it is, He cleanses your life from sin….
When God disciplines you by removing created things, by shaking up your temporal kingdom, rejoice and be glad. Created things divide our affections from God and become competition to our devotion. They lure us into the wrong race. They consume our creativity and deflect our thoughts away from the Lord Jesus.
I became a cultural Christian. Created things became idols and divided me from complete, faithful devotion to our Lord. God removed most of the created things I accumulated. I built a shakeable kingdom, and God shook it. Words are inadequate to express the joy and gratitude I feel toward God for the wounds He faithfully inflicted. It may be the single greatest blessing of my spiritual pilgrimage.
(From Walking with Christ in the Details of Life by Patrick M. Morley)
Best Friend Forever (BFF)
In the modern world of cell-phones and social media, there is a term “Best Friend Forever”. Let us take a look at who should be your BFF.
In the fourteenth chapter of Luke’s gospel Jesus has a talk with an entire crowd. The time has come in Jesus’ ministry when he draws a line in the sand and wants to talk about the relationship; he wants to know where these people stand, what was the level of love and commitment:
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes even his own life – he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14: 25-26).
Did you notice the words: “If anyone?” That’s a fairly inclusive word. What Jesus was saying is true for anyone who wants to love God.
Obviously hating your family would contradict the other teachings of Jesus. So why the strong language? Jesus is being honest with the crowd about what it may cost to love God. He lets them know that loving God may mean offending your parents or other family members.
The Contemporary English Version Bible puts it this way: “love me more.” But “hate” is also accurate because it captures the degree to which we must love God. Remember that the “Great Commandment” says: “Love God with your WHOLE heart, mind, and spirit.” That doesn’t leave any love left over for loving yourself or others. When we compare our relationship with God to anyone else there should be no competition. God wants to be your Best Friend Forever”
Is He Your One and Only?
An example of this type of relationship is when a couple gets married. You are basically saying, I am giving you my heart and want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with you.
Now imagine that your significant other says something like this to you: I love you too, but I would like to love others also and commit to them also. If there are any problems I reserve the right to make all decisions. Do you know of any successful marriages that function like this.
Yes, God wants to marry you, with an exclusive relationship. And He wants to be in charge. God makes it clear that he will not share your love. Following him requires your WHOLE heart.
I want to ask you some questions to help reveal if God is one of many, or your one and only. These are not rhetorical questions. Take time to answer them. Grab a pen and write your answers on the lines provided below each question and explanation. How you answer these questions can help show you if there is any competition in sharing your love with God.
1. For what do you sacrifice your money?
The Bible says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” What you spend your time and money often reveals the true desire of your heart and shows who or what you are truly loving.
Many of us sacrifice our time and money for stuff because we think that’s how we find satisfaction. But God wants to be our satisfaction. He described himself as our living water that quenches our thirst forever. Money becomes a substitute for God because it promises to do for us what God wants to do for us.
In Matthew 6:24 Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Those paths go in different directions and you have to choose one.
How you spend your money tells a story about what matters the most to you.
2. When your hurting, where do you go for help?
When you experience the pain of this life where do you turn? Maybe it is: Spouse, parents, food, or work. All these, have the potential to keep you from going to God for love and care.
When someone goes through a difficult challenge, who or what they are truly in love with comes to the forefront.
So when-is the last time you experienced some of the pain and suffering in this life? So who or where did you turn to for comfort? The answer to that Question reveals your true love.
3. What disappoints or frustrates you the most?
When we feel overpowered with life’s concerns, it often reveals something that has become too important. When we find that those things have the power to determine who we are and what kind of life we will have. That is a warning sign, that something is more important than it should be. This warns you that your relationship with God is not your highest priority.
4. What is it that really gets you going?
Like the things that frustrate us, the things that excite us can also point to something or someone that you love more than God. All these things are okay, but they have the potential to become more important than loving God with your WHOLE heart. Loving God means loving him alone. God will not share your love with another lover.
The prophet Ezekiel described what it was like for God when we share our love, attention, and allegiance with anyone or anything else. It is like we’re having an affair. In Ezekiel chapter 16, here is what God says to his people who have been worshiping other gods: You give gifts to all your lovers …
Some of you may have experienced the pain of unfaithfulness. If someone who you have been sharing love with has shared love with someone else at the same time; you would not tolerate it. Yet we expect the Highest Lover not to do the same. If you have experienced this in your life, you know it is one of the worst experiences. God looks at in the same way.
So in Luke 14, God defines the relationship by making it clear that if we love him, we love him and him alone. He won’t share us. God’s refusal to share our love with anyone or anything outside of the relationship; proves that this relationship is to be completely committed. God is the only one, that can share love with others.
While Jesus our model and teacher on earth left his family and had His apostles do the same thing. Trying to love God part-time or halfhearted is impossible. So His terms are not negotiable.
If loving God cost you everything, would it still be worth it?
For many people, it is less difficult to commit the future to the Lord than to commit to the present. Many recognize that we are helpless in regard to the future, but we feel as if the present is in our own hands and must be carried on our shoulders.
I knew a Christian woman who had a great “burden” in her life. Her concern caused her to lose sleep and her appetite, and soon her health was in danger of breaking down…. She recognized, however, that she could in no way alter her circumstances and therefore resolved to try a new plan.
She took her circumstances to the Lord. She handed them over to His management. Then she simply believed from that very moment that He took them. She decided to leave all responsibility, and her mental worrying and anxious feelings with Him, too.
Of course all of these tormenting things tried time and again to return. And each time, she took them back to the Lord. As a result – although the outward circumstances did not change – her soul began to experience perfect peace in the midst of trouble.
She rejoiced at having entered into such a practical secret of the spiritual life. And from that time, she set this as her goal. Never to carry her own burdens nor to manage her own affairs, but to hand them over as fast as they arose to the divine Burden-bearer.
The same secret, which was so effective in dealing with outward circumstances, she began to apply to her inward life – because, in fact, her moods and emotions were even more utterly unmanageable. So, she abandoned her whole self to the Lord, all that she was, as well as all that she had. She believed that He took what she committed to Him, and determined that she would cease fretting and worrying.
And so she felt a new light dawning within, and felt flooded with the gladness that comes when we know we belong to God. By applying this simple secret, she discovered it is possible to obey God’s loving commandment, contained in the words. “Do not worry about anything.”
The inevitable result is that the peace of God, which comes when we step beyond our understanding and into trust, will take hold of our heart and mind.
(From “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life” by Hannah W. Smith in Safe Within Your Love)
Knowing or Loving Him.
In Matthew 15:8 Jesus says this about a group of religious leaders called, the Pharisees:
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
They knew about God, but they didn’t LOVE him.
This description seems to describe most people. They have brought God into their minds, but they have never surrendered control of their lives and their love. It’s the difference between knowledge and intimacy.
In Luke 7, Jesus had been invited over to eat with Simon, a Pharisee. It became apparent that Simon had invited Jesus as his job, rather than as an honor.
For instance, the customary greeting for an honored guest would have been a kiss. To neglect the greeting kiss was the equivalent to openly ignoring somebody.
Another custom involved the washing of feet. If you truly wanted to honor the guest, you would do it yourself. At the least you were expected to provide water for the guest to do it for themselves.
For a special guest, you would provide them some olive oil for use on their head.
These were not just oversights. This was quite intentional. Jesus was ignored and insulted him.
Don’t miss the importance of this event in the Bible. He had been preparing his life for the coming of the Messiah. Yet he didn’t accept that Jesus was the Messiah, even though Jesus met the requirement for the Messiah stated in his own Scriptures. He knew all about Jesus, but he didn’t love Jesus. He didn’t put Jesus first in his priority.
How difficult is it for you to be demonstrative in a relationship with Jesus? What hinders you from being more open with your love? ______________________________________
When it comes to relationships, are you a “big forgiver” or a “stingy one”? Why? How does this tie in with your relationship with God? ________________________________
What do you learn from this story that could be applied to your life? ___________________________
Think about it: we love hearing and reading Bible stories. But if they don’t change our lives, they are just stories. The problem isn’t knowledge. The problem is that unless the knowledge brings love; it is just knowledge.
I am NOT saying, studding and learning about an individual is wrong. Jesus referenced, read, and quoted passages from the Old Testament about his Father. Knowledge can be a false indicator of love.
An example of that is available in many marriages today. Over 50% of marriages end in divorce. Many of those who are getting divorced, know quite a lot about their former spouses. The usual problem is that they didn’t place the person they are suppose to be loving in priority over themselves.
Clearly where there is true love there should be growing knowledge.
Part of the proof that I have an intimate relationship with my wife is how much I know about her. I know what kind of shampoo she uses. I know what makes her upset. But these things don’t bring us deeper in love. I need to be committed to her and what she needs, wants, desires, etc.; in order to be truly in love.
In our relationship with God, we need to realize that he is not impressed with my knowledge but how it brings us deeper in love. It won’t help my relationship if I can point out the religious traditions I have followed and the moral code I observed, unless I can show how it brought us together.
Knew, intimacy, commit
Probably the best biblical word for love/intimacy is the word “knew.” But this intimacy goes much deeper than knowledge. We see that in Genesis 4:1: Adam knew Eve his wife.
Here’s the best way to define “knew”.
To know completely and to be completely known.
It’s this intimate connection on every level is true love. It’s a beautiful picture that helps us get at what it means to really love God. One Hebrew scholar defines the word this way: “A mingling of the souls/spirits.”
So let us now take a look at how God wants to know and be known by us. In Psalm 139 We see this statement: O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
This should completely change your life and the way you relate to God. Just as Jesus changed the life of the women who greeted Jesus in the Pharisee Simon’s home. Apparently she had herd Jesus teaching, and something happened in her heart. And maybe it was the way He looked at her. His eyes communicated her value and worth. She was a beloved daughter. And perhaps she knew that God loved her and he hadn’t given up on her, even if everyone else had.
She is so focused on Jesus that she forgets about herself. She is desperate to express the love and affection she feels for the Son of God.
But when she looks at Jesus, he seems to know what happened in her heart. He gives her a warm smile. He seems delighted that she has come, and he looks at her with the eyes of a loving father watching his beautiful daughter, as she enters the room
She is so undone by this that the tears come, just a few at first, and then more. With the benefit of her tears she washes his feet.
In the end, this prostitute who lovingly expressed her love is shown to make her a God lover. Here, then, is another important question:
Who am I most like in this story?
When is the last time you had a moment with God like this woman in Luke 7 had? When is the last time the tears streamed down your face as you expressed your love for him. When is the last time you Loved God with your WHOLE heart? __________________________________________
Jonathan Edwards was one man who made a difference. Born in 1703, he was perhaps the most brilliant mind America ever produced. A pastor, writer, and later president of Prince, he and his wife had 11 children. Of his male descendants:
More than 300 became pastors, missionaries, or theological professors;
120 were professors at various universities;
110 became attorneys;
60 were prominent authors;
30 were judges;
14 served as presidents of universities and colleges;
3 served in the U.S. Congress and one became Vice-President of the United States.
Jonathon Edwards … was just one man, but he positively affected hundreds and even thousands of his descendants after his death.
The destiny of those future generations is in your hands. The choices you make with your family today will determine the quality of life in your family tree for generations to come. That’s why one man can make a difference.
(From Point Man by Steve Farrar)
Casual or a Commitment
John 3 – Nicodemus
In John chapter 3 we read about a religious person named Nicodemus. You should know that he wasn’t just any religious person. He was a well known and well respected man of God. Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, an elite group of community and religious leaders. He watched as Jesus worked incredible miracles, but it wasn’t just his power that was impressive, it was his compassion and love.
Nicodemus was ready to take his relationship with Jesus, the son of God, to another level, but it wasn’t that easy. Being a secret admirer of the Son of God cost him nothing, but becoming a lover of the Son of God and His Father came with a high price tag. It always does.
So, He would have to choose between religion and a shared love relationship with the Son of God and His Father. There was no way for him to truly become a lover of the Son of God and His Father, without losing his religion.
It would be easy to overlook this detail and dismiss it as not relevant. But ask yourself, why would he come at night? If he could develop a relationship with the Son of God without having to make any real changes. He could love the Son of God and his Father without it impacting his job. In fact, his friends and family wouldn’t have to know. He could talk to Jesus and at night and quietly make a decision in his heart to love the Son of God and his Father; that way it wouldn’t disrupt his comfortable and established life.
Here is the reality that Nicodemus is about to have impressed on him. There is no way to love God without him interfering with your life. Loving God will cost you something. Sharing love with God always costs something. For Nicodemus it would cost him a powerful position. It would cost him the respect of his co-workers. It would cost him his source of income and livelihood. It would cost him friendships. It would likely cost him some family relationships. How has loving God, interfered with your life?
What first aroused your interest in Jesus? Why? _______________________________________
Where are you right now in the birthing process of spiritual life: Not yet conceived? Developing, but not so anyone could tell? Heavy with child and waiting? Kicking and screaming like an infant? Growing daily? Explain. ___________________________________________
Most of us don’t mind God making some minor change in our lives, but God wants to turn our lives upside down. God wants a complete change. God will completely overhaul your life. He will makeover your life. A complete remodeling is coming. The guarantee is that God will interfere with your life.
Nicodemus begins his conversation with Jesus by making it clear that he has decided that Jesus really is from God. He has come to this point of belief, but where would he go from there? Jesus doesn’t waste time but gets right to the HEART of why Nicodemus is coming to him at night instead of the openness of the day. He tells Nicodemus in verse 3 that he must be born again. Nicodemus must humble himself and be born again into a WHOLE new way of life – shared love.
Decision or Love
There is a difference. Many have made a decision to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to loving God. The Gospel allows for no distinction. Biblical belief is more than mental or verbal agreement. Many non-lovers were baptized or have repeated a prayer or raised their hand or walked forward at the end of a sermon and made a decision to believe – even Satan and his followers, but there was no commitment to love God with their WHOLE heart, mind, and spirit. Jesus never offered such an option. He is looking for more than words of belief; he is looking to see what is in your heart and how that shared love is lived out in your life.
Imagine a wedding and watching the bride and groom, with tears in their eyes as they speak words of devotion” … forsaking all others until we are parted by death.” While they were on their honeymoon and the bride was unfaithful to her groom. Suddenly those words would hold no value. They would be worthless, because they were not validated by faithful love and commitment.
Biblical belief is more than just an intellectual acceptance or a shared loving acknowledgment; it is a commitment to share love. Loving someone, by definition requires more than mental agreement, it calls for action.
Sharing love is the essential part of faith. One can’t live without the other. If you try and separate shared love from the message of belief, belief dies in the process. And the same holds true when you reverse them. Love cannot exist if you don’t have faith or trust.
Most Christians I have talked with have been in churches or in Christian communities where their belief in Jesus was constantly being emphasized and strength, but what it actually meant to love God was never made clear.
This is what we have done with our approach to Christianity. In teaching people what it means to be a Christian, we spend much of our time and effort bringing them to a point of belief without clearly calling them to share love with God.
Most Christians have heard very little about how sharing love with God will change the way they live. And this is done, because of the commitment and trust that is required.
The Christian churches of today are either:
1. Selling only the benefits of Christianity and not the love and commitments that is required.
2. Selling only the requirements and commitments but not the benefits.
We, as Christian leaders need to find a good balance.
In this section we will look at all of Scripture. Moses couldn’t love God without standing in front of Pharaoh. Noah couldn’t love God without building an ark that would bring ridicule from his neighbors. Daniel couldn’t love God by praying to him alone without being thrown into a lions’ den. Loving God isn’t something you can do at night where no one notices. It’s a twenty-four-hour-a-day love and commitment that will interfere with your life. That’s a guarantee.
Many Christians need to hear the benefits of being a Christian: How would you like to live forever? Would you like to have a fresh start? Do you want to spend eternity in a love-fest? You get such other benefits like peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, and more. They will be covered in a coming chapter.
But to get all these benefits, there is a price to pay. You need to love God with your WHOLE heart, mind, and spirit and be committed to it. This commitment means your life has to change. You have to start by surrendering the control of your life to God’s control of it. This is achieved by the death of your desires, wants, control, etc.. There is no loving God without committing to it.
Let us go back to covering Nicodemus and God’s guidance to his life so that he can make that commitment. We see that occurring when he stands up and defends Jesus. This effort puts his job and life at risk. This includes other relationships and his financial future. The Sanhedrin attacked him, by giving him a hard shot to his ego and to his reputation that he had worked so hard to establish.
There is always a moment like this for people becoming lovers of God. They are put in a position where they have to decide between God’s control of their life and controlling it themselves.
Nicodemus is put in this position again, when Jesus’s body is taken down from the cross and needs to be buried. He chose to put his financial resources under control of God, and use them to bury His Son. There was no longer any chance of hiding his love.
Nicodemus makes this great gesture of love and commitment. Christian tradition states that he was martyred sometime in the first century.
It will be your decision, whether you will choose to love God with your WHOLE heart, mind, and spirit and commit to that love for whatever it takes. Or will you choose to maintain control over your life.
Stories from the underground church in the former Soviet Union never fail to jolt us awake, I came across another one just the past week. A house church received one copy of Gospel by Luke, the only scripture most of these Christians had ever seen. They tore it into small sections and distributed them among the body of believers. Their plan was to memorize the portion they had been given, then on the next Lord’s day they would meet and redistribute the scripture sections.
On Sunday these believers arrived inconspicuously in small groups throughout the day so as not to arouse the suspicion of KGB informers. By dusk they were all safely inside, windows closed and doors locked. They began by singing a hymn quietly but with deep emotion. Suddenly, the door was pushed open and in walked two soldiers with loaded automatic weapons at the ready. One shouted, “All right – everybody line up against the wall. If you wish to renounce your commitment to Jesus Christ, leave now!”
Two or three quickly left, then another. After a few more seconds, two more.
This is your last chance. Either turn against your faith in Christ.” he ordered, or stay and suffer the consequences.
Another left. Finally, two more in embarrassed silence, their faces covered, slipped out into the night. No one else moved. Parents with small children trembling beside them looked down reassuringly. They fully expected to be gunned down or at best to be imprisoned.
After a few moments of complete silence, the other soldier closed the door, looked back at those who stood against the wall and said, Keep your hands up – but this time in praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, brothers and sisters. We, too, are Christians. We were sent to another house church several weeks ago to a group of believers –“
The other soldier interrupted, “ … but, instead, we were converted! We have learned by experience, however, that unless people are willing to die for their faith, they cannot be fully trusted.”
In segments of the world where Bibles are plentiful and churches are protected, faith can run awfully shallow. Commitment can stay rather lukewarm. Eagles can learn to fly dangerously low, “what we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”
(From Living Above the Level of Mediocrity by Charles Swindoll)
Are You a Lover of God?
I would say the chances are pretty good that you just skipped over the above question. You may have read it, but I doubt it carried much weight or has very little impact on your life. But would you let me ask you this question again? It’s the most important question you will ever answer.
Are you a Lover of God.
You may not have been asked this question before. Because it is not familiar, there is a tendency to dismiss it. Not because it makes you uncomfortable. The question is dismissed mostly because it seems not relevant or necessary.
You probably have not dealt with it before, so you may quickly dismiss it. But before you move on too quickly, let me clarify what I am not asking. I am not asking the following:
• Do you go to church?
• Are you a Christian?
• Do you own more than one Bible?
• Have you ever appeared as a Church member, elder?
• Did you go to Christian children’s events?
Here is the point: many of us are quick to say, “Yes, I am a Christian.” But I am not sure we really understand what we are saying. Inigo Montoya once said, “I do not think that means what you think it means.”
One of the most essential passages of the Bible tells of a day when many who consider themselves to be followers of Christ will be stunned to find out that he doesn’t recognize them. In Matthew, chapter 7, Jesus tells of a day when everyone who has ever lived will stand in front of God. On that day, many who call themselves followers of Jesus and identify themselves as members of a Christian church will stand proudly in front of Christ, only to hear him say, “I never knew you. Away from me.” If you’ve assumed you were going to join God in heaven forever; I pray that this book will either confirm that confidence or hopefully will get you to reevaluate your relationship with God and commit you to share love with Him.
I’m not a Christian yet.
It would be interesting to know how and why you got this book? And maybe you have skipped over the question: “Are you a lover of God?” You probably felt it was not relevant to you?
It doesn’t bother you if someone loves or not loves God. Others can love him or not; because it is not relevant to you. You might be asking yourself about now, But what if it should be relevant to you. What if all of life comes down to this one question? What if there is really is a God, and a heaven, and there could be an eternal love-fest, and it all hinges on that one question. Shouldn’t you look into that possibility? These thoughts may seem completely ridiculous, but if there is any part of you that is considering that there may be some relevance to you, then isn’t it worth looking into this question? As you read this book, I hope that you would at least consider that this may be the most important question you will ever consider. I believe that the reason we were put on this earth is to answer this one question. And by not answering this question, we are answering this in the negative.
In my earlier book, “WHY” I attempted to sell people on Sharing Love with God. After reading this book, there will be people who still, will not agree with me. But all I will ask is that if you have not read my earlier book, “WHY” please do so, because this question is too important. You still may not agree with me, but even Jesus invited people to love God, there were still people who would not agree with Jesus.
Time for the evaluation
So where do you start in determining if you really a lover of God? How do you start even deciding whether you should love God? You may want to start, by looking at the statement: Love makes the world go round. Does it? Well for most people, one of the goals of becoming an adult, is to find someone who they can love and become partners in a loving relationship.
Define the Relationship
In the physical world, there is usually a period of evaluation in any relationship to determine the relevance and commitment. This is very important in a love relationship; you want to determine where things stand and to find out if the love you are sharing is real.
Every loving relationship needs to make this evaluation. Is it casual or committed? Have things moved beyond friendship and liking towards a deeper love (where you are ready to put the other party’s needs, desires, etc. – have a higher priority to you than your own) and dedication to that love relationship. You need to intentionally evaluate the state of that relationship and your level of commitment to that relationship.
Is your relationship with God exclusive? Is it just a casual Sunday morning-one hour thing or has it moved past that? How would your relationship with God be defined? What exactly is your level of love?
Whether you’ve called yourself a Christian since childhood, or all of this is new to you. God has clearly defined what kind of relationship he wants to have with you. He said He wants your WHOLE HEART MIND AND SPIRIT. Or in another explanation He wants your WHOLE life. I hope you can’t stop wondering if that question, “Are you a lover of God?” is relevant.
It may seem that there are many lovers of God, but if they were honestly to define the relationship they have with Him, I am not sure it would be accurate to describe them as lovers.
The biggest threat to the church and world today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren’t actually interested in following Jesus into a fully committed love affair with God. They want to be close enough to God to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them.
A Loving Evaluation
So, are you a Lover of God or not? Many individuals, mistakenly identify themselves as lovers by using comparisons. They look at the commitment levels of others around them and feel like their relationship is good. As long as they are more spiritual and loving than the next person, everything is good.
Have you noticed that when we compare ourselves to others, we almost always put ourselves up against those who would make us on the better side.
Another measurement we use is the one where we evaluate relationships using religious rules and rituals as evidence. Of course I’m a lover, I’m not doing it for nothing!”
We have other ways to determine if we are lovers: Denominational measurement, our family heritage, and biblical knowledge are all ways we try to prove that we really are God lovers. But here’s the real question: how does God defines what it means to love him?
The biblical accounts of God requiring people to define the relationship and honestly determine if they were true lovers. As we study these encounters with Jesus they will act as a mirror so we can have a more honest evaluation of our shared love relationship.
Many Christians admit that they do not really Know God. For other believers, lack of knowledge of God is the cause of vacillating spirituality, inconsistency between the talk and the walk of faith, and ineffectiveness in prayer. For still others, inadequate knowledge of God accounts for the reluctant response to holy living and moral responsibility….
What does it mean to know God and live with a knowledge of Him? It involves both intimacy and integrity. The intimacy of the Thou-I relationship we were created to experience with God requires the opening of our innermost being to Him just as He has revealed His innermost nature to us. The word intimacy means “proceeding from within, inward, internal.” In Hebrew the word for knowledge has the same root as “to know.” It is also the physical and spiritual oneness of a husband and wife, we call (shared) love.
“He placed one scoop of clay upon another until a form lay lifeless on the ground….
All were silent as the Creator reached in Himself and removed something yet unseen, “It’s called choice.” The seed of choice.
Creation stood in silence and gazed upon the lifeless form.
An angel spoke, “But what if he …”
“What if he chooses not to love?” the Creator finished. “Come I will show you.”
Unbound by today, God and the angel walked into the realm of tomorrow….
The angel gasped at what he saw. Spontaneous love. Voluntary devotion. Never had he seen anything like these … The angel stood speechless as they passed through centuries of repugnance. Never had he seen such filth. Rotten Hearts. Ruptured promises. Forgotten loyalties.
The Creator walked on in time, further and further into the future, until he stood by a tree. A tree that would be fashioned into a cradle. Evan then he could smell the hay that would surround him….
“Wouldn’t it be easier to not plant the seed? Wouldn’t it be easier to not give the choice?”
“It would,” the Creator spoke slowly “But to remove the choice is to remove the love.”
They stepped into the Garden again. The Maker looked earnestly at the clay creation. A monsoon of love swelled up within him. He had died for the creation before He had made him. God’s form bent over the sculptured face and breathed. Dust stired on the lips of the new one. The chest rose, cracking the red mud. The cheeks fleshened. A finger moved. And an eye opened.
But more incredible than the moving of the flesh was the stirring of the spirit. Those that could see the unseen gasped.
Perhaps it was the wind who said it first. Perhaps what the star saw that moment is what made it blink ever since. Maybe it was left to an angel to whisper it:
“It looks like … It appears so much like … it is him!”
The angel wasn’t speaking of the face, the features, or the body. He was looking inside – at the soul.
“It’s eternal!” gasped another.
Within the man, God had placed a divine seed. A seed of His self. The God of might had created earth’s mightiest. The Creator had created not a creature, but another creator. And the One who had chosen to love had created one who could love in return.
Knowledge of God is more than ideas about Him. It involves our total inner selves, intellect, emotion, and will. Otherwise known as “Shared Love”.
You will look at where you live, and where you could live. You will look at it from a conceptual as well as a practical approach. This book is committed to help you move in the right direction.
This book will challenge you to develop a shared love relationship with God and your fellow humans.
You may be rewarded more by being challenged by this compelling book.
The content in this book will change your world
This book disrupts the status quo and challenges you to share love with God and other humans. It is a powerful call to commitment, and to loving God with ALL your heart, mind, and spirit that will challenge you in the best of ways.
This is a message to the world that could save it from complete disaster.
Too often in the average Christian Church, the attendees are given one of two messages:
- You can have an eternal life with God and an abundant life on earth if you only will believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. But the book (Bible) clearly says in both parts (Old & New Testaments) that God gave us a commandment (requirement) that We (humans) MUST LOVE God with our WHOLE Heart, Mind, and Spirit.
- You can have an eternal life with God and an abundant life on earth if you only will take up your cross and relinquish your control of your life; and completely commit to live as a slave or servant to God and man. That is really difficult.
Well this book proposes that what God really wants is the Great Commandment Love God with your WHOLE heart, mind, and spirit. This is what we will look at in this book.
Too often preachers try to talk people into following Jesus, as appealing, comfortable, and convenient as possible; or as scary as possible, so everyone either drops out or is not prepared for the challenges of life.
I hope you will read this book and discover with me what it really means to share love with God. I will talk more about sharing love than forgiveness, more about surrender than salvation, more about happiness than repentance, and more about life than death. The truth is, this book will lay out a comfortable and reassuring path. But it will require complete commitment.