God’s heart is the mold from which all other valentines are made.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
I originally published this article seven years ago. But it is still so relevant today — and people need this message even more now than they did then. So I’m sharing it again in the hope that new readers will be lifted and encouraged by it.
“For lo, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come …” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12 Amp). When I was a child, I was much troubled by fears of various kinds, and as a result I often had trouble sleeping at night. Thank God, He delivered me from all fear many years ago, so I am no longer tormented by those experiences. But I can still remember very vividly how they affected my life and what few things gave me relief from them.
When I was wakeful in the dark hours of night and those eerie wee hours of the morning, I alternated, from night to night, in my methods of dealing with my fears. Once in a great while, they were so tormenting that I ended up sleeping with my parents. But most nights I used other alternatives. Some nights I spent the time pulling the covers around me as tightly as I could, squeezing my eyes shut, and straining my ears to hear every sound. Other nights, I concentrated on staying alert to every corner of the room, the doorway to the hall, and the area beneath my bed – to make sure nothing that just might be lurking there could get to me. I couldn’t have told you what I thought might be lurking around my bedroom. I wasn’t afraid of any particular kind of person or monster. I just knew I was afraid. During some of those nights – my most sensible nights – I tried to calm my fears by reciting all the lessons from my catechism or singing “Silent Night.” Those strategies generally gave me enough relief that I sometimes even drifted back to sleep.
I have to say here that my parents did what they knew to alleviate my fears, telling me – quite honestly – that there was nothing to be afraid of. And I had studied the Word of God enough that I had learned about God taking care of little children while they slept. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, I had also learned that faith-destroying prayer that the devil himself must have written to be taught to almost every child who ever lived: “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” I actually never prayed that prayer. I think, even at that young age, I knew that a prayer like that was so faithless that it couldn’t do me any good. Moreover, even then, I realized that saying out of my own mouth that I might die during the night was just inviting death to come.
Something deep inside me told me that it couldn’t be the will of God for little children to die so young. But knowing that most adults thought that prayer was a “good” prayer and a “right” prayer for little kids to pray always left me just a little bit fearful that maybe I was wrong. Maybe God did want some of us kids to die and not get a chance to live our lives on the earth. And if I were wrong, and “they” were right, then if I let myself go to sleep, I just might die.
Anyway, none of my parents’ efforts at the time helped me overcome the problem, and it was only years later that I learned the truth about Jesus really being the same today as He was when He walked the earth over 2000 years ago. He truly does offer the same deliverance that He offered then, and when that truth took root in my spirit, Jesus delivered me completely.
But my point here is that there was one thing that always gave me relief when I was suffering those nights of fear. At just about 5:00 in the morning, I heard the birds begin to sing. Now they may start singing at other hours in other parts of the world, but where I lived, they almost always began at the same time. Every time I heard them begin to sing and looked at my clock it was always within a very few minutes of 5:00 a.m. Eventually, I didn’t even bother to look at the clock because I knew for sure when I heard the singing of the birds, it was then 5:00 in the morning, and daylight would soon be streaming through my window. The night was over. I didn’t have to huddle between the tightly drawn covers or keep watch on every corner of the room any longer.
I can still remember clearly how it felt. As soon as the birds began to sing, I immediately began to breath deeply and easily. Every muscle in my body began to relax. I stretched out, turned over, nestled my head comfortably on my pillow, closed my eyes without tension, and drifted immediately and peacefully to sleep. To this very day, every time I happen to be awake to hear the birds begin to sing (and let me hasten to add that I am never awake because of fear any more), I am reminded of the overwhelming release that came to me with that experience all those other years.
Now, of course, my thoughts immediately turn to the fact that I am permanently released from all the fear and its consequences because of Jesus and His work in my life. I cannot keep a smile from spreading across my face when those birds start to sing, and I always lift my heart to the Lord in sincere gratitude for His amazing deliverance and care.
Recently, I have been called upon to counsel and pray with a number of individuals who, although they are faithful Christians who know God’s Word and power, have found themselves bombarded by the dark circumstances of the world and dark messages from some servants of God. This bombardment has been so intense that these people now find themselves in the middle of a “night” full of confusion and fear.
As I waded with them through these troubling and tormenting circumstances and the subsequent messages that seemed to prophesy disaster, doom, and confusing instructions for “survival” of the same, I realized that each of these people was missing a very important truth. Indeed a large majority of the Body of Christ seems to be missing that same truth: The fact that we are not in the middle of a dark, scary night. We are on the verge of a brilliant day — the day when our manifested redemption is drawing nigh. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28). If we rightly divide the Word of God as He instructs us to do, we will stop our fearful frenzy of trying to figure out how best to protect ourselves in the “end times,” and we will be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). We will get quiet long enough to hear the singing of the birds and know that all is well.
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.” Everyone knows the song, and nearly everyone acquaints Christmas and Jesus Christ with that lowly manger on the night of His birth as a human being.
But, beloved, we must make sure that we do not continue to acquaint Jesus Christ with a little baby lying in a manger — helpless and dependent on mommy and daddy to feed, change, clothe, and protect Him. In fact, if we would bring pleasure to the heart of God, we would actually give very little attention to that lowly feeding trough, and we would focus our attention on where Jesus went from there. Because, in actual fact, where He went from there is exactly where we have gone. He took us with Him every step of the way.
Before His lowly birth into the human race, the person we know as Jesus Christ was the second person of the Godhead. He is described in the first chapter of the Gospel of John as “the only-begotten son” of the Father. The Greek term that is translated “only begotten son” actually means a being that never had a time of beginning. And because Jesus was part of the triune Godhead, He had existed for all time just as much as the Father and the Holy Spirit. It’s interesting to note that only before His redeeming work on earth is Jesus referred to by this term. Once He became a human being, suffered and died and rose again, He is never referred to by that particular term again. He is referred to only as the first-born from the dead, or the head of the church. Because He is no longer just God — but is now God and man together, His whole identity has changed.
But in the old covenant, while still the “only begotten son”, He was also the person of the Godhead who would reveal Himself in physical form to man whenever there was a need for that. Every time we see the old covenant fathers receiving a visit from what many Bible translations call “the angel of the Lord,” the men themselves recognized that they were actually in the presence of the Lord Himself. They all recognized that this person who was visiting them was part of the Godhead and, therefore, they addressed Him as Lord or they named the place where they had received Him in honor of having come face to face with their God. Jacob wrestled with that “angel of the Lord,” but when the battle was over, and that “angel” had blessed him with a new name and a new identity, Jacob named the place, “I have seen the face of God”
During the old covenant, those visits by the second person of the Godhead were very short and for very specific reasons, but the Word of God says that “when the time was fully come,” God sent forth His son, born of a woman. In other words, there was a set time at which that person of the Godhead would no longer fleetingly come and go to help man a little bit here and there along the way — but would come and stay as a man so that He could live the life of perfect obedience that a holy God demanded, and then he could give His life to pay for the disobedience of every other man, thereby satisfying God’s justice, His holiness, and His merciful love for His wayward creation.
So when the time was fully come, Jesus obediently got up from His throne, laid aside all the privileges of being part of the Godhead (Philippians 2: 6-7), and took on the same flesh that every other human being had to live in on this earth. Why did He do that? In order to live a life on this earth as a human being, facing everything we face in a world cursed because of sin and terrorized by satan and his hordes of demons. Jesus had to live life as a real man — obedient to God’s covenant — anointed by the Holy Spirit with power for ministry — and He had to do it perfectly. He did it, and the Word of God says He did it for you and me.
But then He willingly allowed the Father to lay onto Him all the sin, all the rebellion, all the hatefulness that we had perpetrated — as well as all the curse for breaking God’s laws. He was beaten with stripes beyond recognition for our healing, and He hung on the cross until He had given up every ounce of His blood for our sin. The Word says He died for all, and so in God’s mind, we all died with Him. (Romans 6:3-9, Galatians 2: 20).
So let’s leave the manger and go on to the cross. We hung there in Jesus until the price was paid. But when His body came down from that cross and was put into the grave, that act too was simply one more step in the journey. It was not a stopping place. Because three days later, when God the Father was able to proclaim the price was paid and He could then justly give eternal life to the human race because of what Jesus had done on our behalf, Jesus rose from that grave. The Word says (Ephesians 2: 1-7) that God brought us up out of that grave with Jesus — in Him, to be exact. But that’s still just one step in the journey. There’s more, and it’s the most exciting part of all.
When Jesus had finished His redeeming work and was resurrected — carrying us with Him — He then moved back into Heaven — right into the throne room from which He had begun His journey. But this time, according to the Word of God, He did not enter that throne room as an individual person. He entered it as the Head of His new Body — the body of believers — who died, were buried, and were resurrected in Him. Let’s refer once more to that passage in Ephesians 2, which says clearly that God seated us– in Jesus — at His very right hand — to reign there forever.And what do we reign over? Why everything in life. Romans 5:17 says, “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ.”
So, beloved, this Christmas do not linger at the manger too long. Observe it, yes, as the symbol of the fact that the Lord of the universe willingly came to this cursed planet to accomplish God’s purpose of salvation. Move on to the cross, but do not linger there too long either. Move on to the grave and experience the glorious, exhilarating reality of having been brought up out of death into eternal life. But go on further. Go forward from the open grave to the throne. That’s where we have our reality now. We are seated in Jesus at the right hand of the Father.
And the next time you find yourself in serious trouble — in circumstances that look impossible — remember that you are not supposed to be looking at those circumstances from a world point of view. You need to look at them from where you are actually seated.. Look down on those problems and those circumstances, and when you pray about them, don’t grovel and whine and beg. You’re praying from your position at the right hand of the God of the universe. Let His faith, his joy, and His vision be your own and take authority over those circumstances. Proclaim God’s Word to them and over them.
You’re in a royal position now because the Lord you serve and worship is no longer lying in a manger — no longer hanging on a cross — no longer lying in a grave. He’s reigning at the right hand of the Father God — and so are you. Making us righteous enough to take that position, beloved, is the whole reason Jesus came to the manger in Bethlehem. For Him, putting us in our legal position on the throne at the right hand of God is what Christmas is all about.
I find it very hard to trust people nowadays. I’m not sure why, but I have to assume it’s because so many people have let me down and/or virtually ‘knifed me in the back,” to use a worn-out — but exceedingly descriptive — phrase. I won’t use this post to list the times and details of those kinds of experiences. That would do no good for anyone — least of all me. And I can honestly say that I have, with the Lord’s help, been able to forgive all those actions by others against me. And, in fact, in most cases — again, with the Lord’s help — have put them out of my conscious mind to the point that I’d have to make concerted effort to remember those details. I’m very grateful that I’m at that point in my life.
However, just because we forgive hurts, attacks, and injustices by others does not mean that we automatically acquire renewed trust in those people. And, unfortunately, it’s true that when you know you cannot trust most people, then it’s pretty hard to trust any at all. But thank God, He can help us. He can lead us to relationships with people who really are trustworthy, and He can give us the faith and courage to take the steps that lead us back into trust.
The main reason He can do that is because He is so trustworthy Himself. Our loving Father God means every promise He ever made to us. And He’s made at least one that will cover every single need we will ever have. And He tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:20 that every promise (from the Old Covenant and the New Covenant) has already been answered “Yes” in Jesus. There’s no way God will ever go back on any promise He’s given us in His Word, because, according to this passage of scripture, He cannot change His mind or decide He’s not in the mood to answer “Yes.” It’s already a done deal, so we can trust Him, no matter what.
And, of course, that’s why He can tell us in Proverbs 3 that we should trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and lean not unto our own understanding. I’m so grateful that, in a world where so many people can’t help but hurt each other and break trust, we have a God whom we can trust with our whole being. We can literally stake our lives on His love, His Word, and His faithfulness. We can trust and not be afraid.
Worship: it’s the door to peace, power, and pleasures for evermore. Jonah found worship to be his most powerful help in getting back into God’s grace. When he’d deliberately disobeyed the Lord and ended up in the belly of a big fish at the bottom of the sea, he came to his senses and realized how foolish he’d been. When he looked around, everything he saw told him there was no hope for rescue– or any kind of future. But he knew that there was still a God who wanted to save him. So he turned his attention away from his circumstances and away from his own disobedience. Instead, he focused on his God and began worshiping Him. Shortly thereafter, he was cast out of the fish onto dry land, and he got a second chance to live the successful life God has always wanted for him.
Habakkuk found that worship was his most power friend when he looked all around and found that the trees weren’t bearing fruit, the flock weren’t bearing offspring, and everything looked like there was no hope for the land of Israel. But, knowing that salvation from all that looked hopeless lay in His God – and that what God’s Word said was more real and more reliable than what he saw in the natural – He worshiped God and called for the rest of the nation to do the same – knowing that as they worshiped, they were releasing God’s hand to bring life and productiveness back into their situation.
And talk about power in worship: let’s not forget Paul and Silas, in the depths of a Philistine prison, who decided that nothing in their circumstances could outweigh the loveliness and the faithfulness of their God. As they chose to worship Him, rather than bemoan their current, temporary physical situation, the power of God moved with such force that it broke up the earth and the building where they were being held captive. And not only were they set free – but the jailer and his family were liberated from their hell-bound lives into a blessed relationship with God for eternity.
Eternity is what it’s really all about. God wants us to have blessed lives while we’re on this earth, but He’s even more concerned that we have the blessing of living and creating with Him for all of eternity – enjoying the priceless, indescribable pleasures that we find in His presence. Psalm 16:11 tells us, “ … in Thy presence is fullness of joy. At Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Worship heads us in the right direction for eternity. But while we’re here on the earth preparing for that eternity, as we worship Him, God says (Psalm 22:3) that He will literally inhabit our praises. And were He is, we’ll experience peace, power, and pleasures forevermore.
(Song of Solomon 7:10)
Jesus loves you, and His desire is toward you. That word toward is very significant here, because most people who love someone have a desire for them — rather than toward them. And, in truth, Jesus does desire to have you for His own, but that’s only so that He can give you everything He is and everything He’s accomplished for you. He wants you to have everything He has. And He’s already paid the price for you to possess it. You don’t have to do anything to earn all that He has for you. The only requirement on your part is that you receive Him into your own spirit (your own heart) and make Him Lord of your life. Once He’s in that position, He can begin pouring into you all that you need and all that will make your life blessed and successful now — and throughout eternity.
In Ephesians, chapter 1, the Word of God tells us that God accomplished total victory over every force of evil through Jesus’ work of redemption, and when He raised Jesus from the grave, He gave Him absolute, eternal power and authority over every person and thing in the entire universe. Then the Word says that when God did that, He was exercising the “greatness of His power toward us.” It was all done for us. You see, God’s power is always moving and working to bring us good. It’s always toward us. The truth is that if you become a child of God — by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord — you just can’t get away from God’s power working good for you.
Men and women for generations have sought high and low for some kind of religion that would satisfy them. They’ve studied one religious system after another and experimented with their various tenets and practices. But not one — not one single religion on the face of the earth — can offer man a total deliverance from his own base nature and from the evil that exudes from that nature. Not one of those religions can offer a fresh start, free of charge, and a nature purified and changed into the nature of the God who created us in the first place. Every religion out there tells us that we, somehow, have to do something, to earn a better life and a better eternity. We have to work at it, and then may not obtain our goal in the end after all.
But Christianity is NOT a religion. True Christianity is simply the Father God loving His own children, and being loved by them. It’s a family, pure and simple. Every parent who is worthy to be called a parent is constantly aware that he loves his child more than his own life, and his constant desire is toward his child — to meet his needs, heal his wounds, and bless him with gifts. And God is no different. That’s His desire as well. And through Jesus, the first Son, He calls all of us into His loving arms, desiring us to receive His love and become sons and daughter as well, so that He can exert His power toward us for good.
If you know this wonderful Father, you know what I’m talking about. But if you do not yet know Him, today can be your day. He already loves you, His desire is already toward you. Call out to Jesus and let His exceeding great power work a total regeneration in you today — and for eternity.
“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And my covenant of peace (wholeness, completeness) will not be shaken, says the Lord who has compassion on you. In righteousness you will be established; you will be far from oppression for you will not fear; and from terror, for it will not come near you. If anyone fiercely assails you, it will not be from Me. Whoever assails you will fall because of you. No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn.”
(Isaiah 54:10, 14, 15, 17)
My darkest night has come,
The sorrow is so deep.
My grieving heart’s entombed —
So empty it can’t weep.
The storm around me rages,
And uses up my strength.
While memories and images
Besiege my mind at length.
But through the savage gale,
A voice so sweet and clear,
Rings out and then prevails;
Bids me let Him draw near.
For in His lovely presence,
The howling winds of grief
Stand still. His very essence
Is all-consuming peace.
His light condemns the darkness
And forces its retreat.
The night to dawn must hearken,
And death to Life concede.
Believers: Let’s not get complacent about Hurricane Irma. This storm is more than just another hurricane. This is a well-planned, well-orchestrated demonic onslaught on this nation and the people in it. The enemy wants the inhabitants of the U. S. and the rest of the world to believe that the natural elements of this world have run amok, and that there is no God who’s interested enough in delivering His people from the chaos.
We know that there is such a God, and that His mercy is big enough to send His own Son to be slaughtered on our behalf. He wants to deliver the people of Florida — and other places as well — from this vicious demonic attack. But He’s made it clear in His Word that He must have covenant men and women — on the earth — praying and taking authority in the name of Jesus for His power to overcome in the earthly realm.
This is a defining moment in the battle between the two spiritual forces that want to rule in our nation and in our lives. Our simply saying, “I’m in agreement,” will not do the job. We have to put our whole hearts into praying the Word and commanding the Word against this situation. Pray as you would if your own son or daughter were stranded in Florida right now with nowhere to hide from this storm.
The state of Florida, as well as the whole southeastern coast of the United States has been preparing this week to face one of the most horrendous storms in the century. Our Gulf Coast — particularly Texas — is currently trying to recover from a storm almost as devastating. I have friends and family in both places, and their well-being is a priority in my heart. I live in the Heartland of the United States. Most years during the spring and fall, when our seasons undergo a major change, our section of the country, along with the section to the south and east of us, experiences frequent occurrences of severe weather. In recent years, there have been some devastating storms that brought hundreds of deaths and destruction to massive portions of the Midwest.
When horrific events like these killer storms develop, there are a number of people who automatically suppose that God is behind those events — or that He deliberately allows them as a way of teaching or punishing the people on earth. Nothing could be further from the truth, and in response to a number of misguided comments on that subject, by both Christians and non-Christians, I am posting this article in an effort to clear the record and bring to light the truth — both about devastating storms and about God.
Jesus said, in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.”
And there you have it, friends. Those words say it all. That one statement by Jesus gives us the definitive answer to the question of whether hurricanes, tornadoes, and other “killer storms” are from God. Do they kill? Do they destroy? Then according to Jesus Christ Himself, they are not from God. Where do they come from? They come from an aberration and twisted use of the natural elements that is orchestrated by Satanic power in operation on this earth.
God made all natural elements, including the elements of weather, to be a blessing to man. And even in Psalm 8, He tells us that man is to rule over “all the works” of God’s hands. But man rebelled against God and His purposes in the garden, and listened to Satan instead. His actions in response to Satan put man in a position of subservience to the devil, and that sin opened the door to a curse that would effect all of the created earth. (Gen. 3 / Rom. 8). When man gave Satan the right to operate in this earth, Satan then moved into a position of being able to take hold of any of the natural elements, adulterate them, twist them, and use them to inflict evil upon mankind — and the planet itself. He operates this way on a regular basis and then tries to convince the world that God causes it all. That’s Satan’s M.O.
However, that is not the last word in the story. God’s Covenant with man — which He calls a “covenant of peace” (Is.54) — restored man’s right to rule over the elements again — only through that covenant — and to take authority over those demonic powers. Even in the Old Covenant, the Lord expected His faithful servants to know how to use that authority over the natural elements. When Jesus is with His disciples in the boat, they are all still living and operating under the Old Covenant with God. But notice that when they are struck by a severe storm (Matt.8), He tells them that they are showing a serious lack of faith in responding in fear rather than authority. He finally stills the storm for them, but at the same time, He asks them “Where is your faith?”
Please note that He did not say, “God sent this storm as judgement for the evil that’s been going on.” Nor did He say, “God is sending this storm to test your faith.” We can’t believe two contradictory things at the same time, friends. We either believe these horrible storms are from the hand of God — or we believe Jesus and recognize them as an evil that we are supposed to take authority over.
As part of the New Covenant, Jesus literally bought back man’s right to govern in the earth as He was intended to do. We as believers are made the Body of Christ, and since the government is now upon His shoulders – His body – us – we are supposed to be “governing.” (Is. 9). The devil still has the right that man gave him to operate in this earth, but we now have absolute power and authority to bind his power and activity wherever we will make the effort.
Since the finished work of Jesus, we are now literally in the highest position of authority on this planet. Philippians 2 says that every created thing — in heaven, on earth, and under the earth — must bow its knee to and obey the name of Jesus Christ. Do we believe that? Ephesians 1 says that Jesus reins over all principalities and powers and that He is the head of His body – which is the Church. If we are His body, and all things are “under His feet,” then all things are under us as well. Do we believe that? Jesus made it so clear: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you.”
We now have the blood-bought spiritual authority living in us to take command over every natural thing. All natural things were created by a Spirit God, and they will respond to the commands of the Spirit God in us.
What do we do with that authority? In Mark 11 — as well as several other scriptures in the Gospels — Jesus says that if we will speak to a mountain or a tree and tell it to move, and not doubt in our hearts, but believe that it will come to pass, we will have what we say. And He clearly demonstrated that the same action works with a storm. Do we believe Him?
Unfortunately, some Christians seem to think that all natural calamities are some kind of judgment from God. There will certainly come a time for God’s judgment to be unleashed — at the end — but that time is not now, if we are to believe the commission of Jesus Christ to His church. Jesus said twice in the Gospel of John that He did NOT come to judge the world, but to save it. He then told His disciples, and all of those who would become disciples, to follow His specific examples and continue to carry on that work of taking the Gospel to the world. That being the case, we need to get into agreement with Jesus and say God is not judging right now; He is delivering the grace and mercy of the Gospel of salvation.
HOWEVER: We do need to be aware that when a nation or a people deliberately throw God’s Word in His face and deliberately take a stand or practice things that God clearly says are against Him and His ways, they are literally opening the door to an attack from demonic power. When we do those things, we set ourselves up for that attack — even invite it. God isn’t sending it, but it will come. But even in that kind of situation, God has repeatedly shown mercy and turned destruction away from people — even in the Old Covenant — because faithful believers prayed and took a stand of faith.
Many times in my own life, I have experienced the power of God’s Word and the name of Jesus Christ taking authority over destructive storms, and as a result, I’ve seen those storms dissipated, turned away, and or destroyed. Many other believers have experienced the same thing. And yes, I’m talking about deadly tornadoes and hurricanes as well as severe thunderstorms.
But when you are facing a huge battle, sometimes you need a huge, united front to win. The need in this nation is for a strong united front of faith on the part of the Christian believers to stand in authority against these deadly storms and weather systems. This whole massive movement of deadly, destructive weather is nothing but a spiritual war being waged by demonic forces, using natural elements. We must learn to recognize it as such and command the demonic forces to take their hands off — and command those elements to obey the purposes of God in the name of Jesus Christ.
Come on, Church! Rise up and take your authority! If true believers in this nation will unite in faith, take a strong stand on God’s Word, and take authority over these destructive storms in the name of Jesus Christ, the storms and elements of weather have no choice but to obey.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” — Hebrews 12:1
Without doubt, one of the most consistent preoccupations of the American mind today is this subject of weight – more specifically, too much weight. As a result, about every two weeks a new diet plan is foisted upon gullible Americans, and another fortune is made by some clever soul.
Maybe it’s time we looked into this matter of weight from a different perspective: not the kind of weight that an exotic diet will solve, but the burdensome weights that the Apostle Paul admonishes us to lay aside. He is referring to that excess baggage that affects our Christian walk and witness – weights that make it difficult for us to move along as well and rapidly as we should, delaying, and even preventing, progress. The apostle directs us to lay them aside, and the clear implication in this Scripture is that we can do that by an act of our will: put it away! Whether it is hanging on our backs or sitting in our paths, we must move it out!
Weights appear in many and varied forms, and Satan will use any one or all of them to prevent our being the effective Christian witnesses Jesus wants us to be. He will also use them to keep us from having a happy and peaceful life. Some are so commonplace and deceptive that we hardly recognize them as such; we just thoughtlessly pick them up and carry them.
Let’s examine some of the weights noted in the Scriptures:
Possessions: First, let’s remember the encounter between Jesus and the rich young ruler in Luke 18. Having possessions is not a sin, and, in fact, properly handled they are, or can be, a blessing. The problem surfaces when possessions begin to dominate our lives — as was the case of the rich young ruler. How much better for us if we keep our material blessings in perspective and use them in all ways to the glory of God.
The Cares of the World: In Jesus’ parable of the sower, as recorded in Matthew 13. Here is a weight that can get so heavy it will simply override the things of God. We get so wrapped up in jobs, social schedules, sports, and selfish desires that our church attendance and commitments are relegated to a lower position on our priority list. Then there is too much busyness. God expects us to provide for our families. The Apostle Paul told Timothy that he who provides not for his family is worse than an infidel. But he also reminded Timothy that there is a place where we are to be content – not continually striving for more.
To some men (even Christian men) their jobs take precedence over everything, including God and family. The same is true with some women. This is a terrible weight, and it will drag our vital fellowship with God to a complete stop.
Self: Self can also be a weight. We need to consider carefully whom we are serving and whose will we are concerned about. How did Jesus deal with this problem of the importance of “self”? His whole attitude and focus can be summed up in this one statement: “I delight to do the will of my Father,” He said. “I do the will of Him who sent me.”
The Desire to be Seen and Heard: This desire can be a weight. In one of His teachings, Jesus admonishes us to “take the worst seat at the table.” Remember that Jesus washed feet! He also instructed us to do as He did. Remember, it is God’s job to elevate us to the higher positions – not ours.
Timidity: This characteristic can develop into a weight. Proverbs 28:1 says, “The wicked flee when no on is pursuing; [this is actually a picture of timidity] but the righteous are bold as a lion!” and 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Murmuring: This habit is one of the heaviest weights of all. First Corinthians 10:10 needs no clarification: “Neither murmur ye as some of them also murmured and were destroyed.” Something about us is always destroyed when we murmur. It may be our fellowship with our Lord; it may be our strength or joy, or even our health. But something is definitely affected in a damaging way. God said so.
Beloved, it is important to remember that God never tells us to do something we cannot do. If He admonishes us to put away from us each of these hindrances to serving Him effectively, then He does so in order to make our lives freer and better. He does not intend to add another burden by insisting we do something that is going to make our lives harder. So let’s believe our Father when He tells us the way to a happier and more effective life. Let us eagerly “… lay aside every weight,” and “… put off the old man …” and let us run the race that is set before us with top efficiency – all the way to victory!
© 2006 Ted Pavloff