A Gift That Keeps on Giving

When Jesus was asked “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Consider the second of these first, knowing it can never be fulfilled until the first is established.

You cannot love yourself in isolation. It involves a transferal of yourself to others.  This makes self-awareness essential in that it enables you to know what gifts and personal attributes you have to give away. This requires getting your mind off yourself and yourself off your mind. We are not to be chalices of blessings, but channels of blessings. Thus, and resulting compliments and praise that comes to us doesn’t cause egotism. Praise that comes to us must flow through us to the one who made it possible, the Lord. Self kept is like manna saved, it spoils.

The moon is a great giver. All of its beauty comes from the reflected rays of the sun. If the sun absorbed those rays and refused to reflect them, it would lose its brilliance. 

The luster of a diamond is a result of the refraction (giving away) of the rays of light that come to it. It is essential that blessings come to us so that we may bless others. Don’t be reluctant to go to the funeral of selfish indulgence instincts.

Happiness is a by-product of self-giving.

The risk in giving yourself to others is rejection and abuse. Candidly, this can be painful. The thing that is more painful is the isolation that comes from not giving yourself away. You are not responsible for acceptance or rejection by others— only the act of self-giving.

The point of beginning is the realization that living such a life can only be overcome by compliance with the first of the greatest commandments, and that is loving the Lord our God “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

Do you live a God conscious life? That is, do you realize that “ inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”  (Matthew 25: 40)

A “how may I serve you Lord,” life in everyday life amid everyday people makes for a life well lived.

Jim Elliot, missionary martyr, observed, “The man is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Brain Power

Thomas Edison said, “The chief purpose of the body is to carry the brain around.” If that is true, never has so much attention been given the vehicle and less to its cargo.” No effort is spared in feeding, grooming, and in general embellishing the body. Paradoxically, little attention is given the fountainhead of all life —- the brain. Authoritative sources calculate the brain can capture, store, recall, and program more than six hundred bits of information per second.

There are two basic laws that apply to it.

Law one: attrition. Brain power erodes if it is not cultivated. Daily creative activities must be engaged in to “muscle up” the brain. If we don’t, we become shadow people. Attrition occurs if a person does not engage in these four creative activities. They are:

To receive, this is the faculty for absorbing information through the five senses.

To retain, this is the ability to record and recall.

To reason, this is the ability to use logic and make judgments based on stored information.

To realize, this is the power to think creatively, to originate or envision.

Law two: attraction. This is our supreme temporal attraction. It is the key to our character, the core of our constitution. Our mind-set attracts persons and philosophies of a similar bent. Like attracts like. People of a pleasant and productive mind-set attract persons of such character. The reverse is true also, those of a negative and pessimistic mind-set attract persons of such character.

Without realizing it we program ourselves to attract the kind of person we want to associate with.

Resolve to be the best person you can be using the facilities you have, and constantly work to enhance the asset of your brain. For starters use this pattern.

“…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4: 8)

If you want to transform your life to be the person God created you with the capacity to be, conform your mind to that standard.

If you have an improper thought, don’t leave the topic until you have superimposed a proper thought on the subject. Ask yourself how Jesus would think about the topic. Use your brain to will the proper thought. Inform your mind to transform your life. You can do it if you “ Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus….” (Philippians 4: 5)      

Control your power of attrition and discipline your power of attraction.

How to Become Re-Energized 7/26/98

I Peter 5: 10, 11
Page 1771 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST has personally summonsed you to heaven. Not only does He want you to come to heaven He proposes to give you strength for the journey.

Have you ever seen a bee trapped in a car or house? It may buzz against a window until it finally winds down. When a bee leaves the hive it carries only enough fuel reserve to get to a predetermined destination and back. If it becomes trapped it runs out of energy and can’t fly. Have you ever felt that way and needed to be re-energized. I read that if you find a bee in that condition and dissolve sugar in water and offer it to the bee it will drink and be re-energized enough to return home. Once while dining at Mt. Vernon, the former home of George Washington, I saw such a bee on the window sill by our table. I dissolved sugar in water in a spoon and offered it to the bee. Slowly it drank for the longest time. Then it took off, buzzed around a bit, flew back and stung me.

It may be we appear to respond to the goodness of the Lord with such ingratitude. Don’t forget, “Thanks” is also prayer.

Our Lord desires to ESTABLISH – STERIZO, the believer. That is, He wants to build up the believer. This word has three basic meanings in the New Testament.

I. PERSEVERANCE “Jesus resolutely set out (sterizo) for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

From the beginning He saw the ending of His life. As He approached Jerusalem He was very mindful that His hour had come and Calvary awaited. He had no ambition for the agony of crucifixion as is evidenced by His withdrawal to Gethsemene. He had no appetite for the spiritual warfare Gethsemene afforded. Yet, He resolutely determined willfully to go to Jerusalem. He needed strength to fight against natural human reluctance. Each step along the road to Jerusalem represented a separate act of the will. Each separate act of the will represented a triumph over the reluctance of the flesh. In Him, in this act, was true heroism. Every one of His footprints is worthy of our study. From His example we learn.

A. We should never shrink from the path of duty regardless of the obstacle. Once you know what is right, do it regardless of the cost.

It was said of Joan of Ark, “She set her path and went down it like a thunderbolt.”

“The way of the LORD is strength for the upright, But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity” (Proverbs 10:29).

God wants His will done. When we know His will and engage in doing it His resources are our assets. It is like swimming in a river. You can swim faster and with greater ease going with the flow of the stream. Swimming against the current is much more difficult.

B. Such uncompromising commitment should not expect any hospitality or help from a hostile world. It does inspire a hostile world.

Before the fall of the Communistic Soviet Republic Christians were severely persecuted. One house church grew in numbers in spite of this. They had to meet in secret to avoid disruption and potential persecution. On a given Sunday they would come to the meeting home in small numbers at a time. It often took hours for all to assemble so as not to attract attention to their gathering.

One Sunday evening their worship was disrupted by a banging on the door and then it burst open. Swiftly Soviet soldiers entered with guns ready. The commander ordered everyone to put their hands over their heads. He then threatened their lives but offered a reprieve. Those assembled had committed a capital offense punishable by death. Any person who would renounce their faith could go free. Slowly at first one person slipped out of the room. Then a couple and finally a few more.

The officer in charged closed the door and said, “Keep your hands in the air, but in praise of our Lord Jesus Christ. A few weeks ago we were ordered to raid a worshiping group. We stayed and were converted to faith in Christ. We are your brothers, but we have found only those willing to die for their faith can be trusted.”

Had you been in that room how would you have responded? The faith of the faithful inspired faith in others. Thereby, they were re-energized.

C. Such resolute response impresses and inspires others. Immediately before Christ started out for Jerusalem He had exhorted His followers to “Take up your cross and follow me.” Their interpretation of that exhortation was afforded. His personal example was a glossary to help their understanding.

Dean Alford, referring to his grave as an “inn,” that is, motel, asked for this inscription on his tombstone: “This is the inn of a traveler on his way to Jerusalem.”

The world is begging the Christian community for an exhibit of courage. Such courage as that which will fight to swim up stream against the current public opinion; courage that had rather eat an honest crust than fair sumptuously on fraud; such courage that will set its face like flint on the straight and narrow road of righteousness.

When the Romans landed at Dover they burned their boats. They had come to conquer or die trying.

With like determination, Paul wrote, “This one thing I do…” With singleness of purpose every believer should ask for, receive, and use the strength promised to stand true to the Lord.

By perseverance the snail reached the ark.

II. FAITH Paul “Traveled from place to place…strengthening all the disciples” (Acts 18:23).

Christ confirms the Christian faith by meeting specific needs with suitable strength. He never asks us to go elephant hunting with a fly swatter.

Neither will He outfit us to kill beetles with battleships.

Recently health care professionals met at Harvard Medical School for a course called “Spirituality and Healing in Medicine.” Their study centered around two groups of research to the faith- health connection. Ninety-nine percent of the doctors believe there is an important relationship between the spirit and the flesh.

The prayers of others for the sick was the subject of one study. Nearly 400 people participated in a California study regarding the effects of the prayers of others for heart patients. Half of the 400 were prayed for by others and half were not. Neither group knew they were being prayed for. Those who were prayed for had half as many complications and had a much lower rate of congestive heart failure.

Personal faith was the object of a study by Dartmouth Medical School. They tracked how patients’ personal prayer life influenced their recovery from bypass surgery. After six months a restudy was done. Among those who didn’t pray the death rate was 9%. Among those who did pray the rate dropped to 5%. NONE of those who had a deeply spiritual life died.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center studied 1700 older Americans and discovered that those who regularly attended religious services had stronger immune responses than those who did not. Blood tests showed those who regularly attended had a higher level of immunity against disease. Thus faith is indicated to be good for one spiritually and physically.

The recommendation was that patients should mix standard medical practices with their personal faith. We should have known that. After all it is in the Scripture.

In the Book of James “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14).

Why don’t we do this? In reality we do. Here is what it means. In the Greek language there are two words for anoint. One is CHRIO. In it you can hear the root for the name Christ, Christo. It means the anointed one. Prophets, priests, and kings were anointed by having oil placed on their brow in a ceremony.

The other Greek word is ALEPHO. It meant to massage or knead with oil in a manner bread is kneaded. In effect ALEPHO means to massage. This is the word used by James. Olive oil has long been highly regarded as having medicinal qualities. In the story of the Good Samaritan he anointed the assaulted man with oil. In Psalm 23 reference is made to “anointing my head with oil.”

What James is saying is use the best medicine known and pray. You will then have done all God expects of you. Therefore, trust Him and the result will be His will and thereby He will be pleased.

Our responsibility in matters of health is to exercise faith in prayer and use the best medicine available. There is strength in faith. Strength to even heal.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father…encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (II Thessalonians 2: 16, 17).

Here the Scripture speaks of strength to face a life of suffering. There are hidden heroes and heroines in this and other fellowships who, by His strength are facing suffering victoriously. Every day holds new agony and every night new torturous trials. At the end of life awaits dying grace. Encouragement follows strength as heat does fire.

There are people here who would been overwhelmed were it not for the strength supplied by the Lord. Some have had enough grief to overcome ten persons but have been sustained by His strength.

Strength is found in:
PATIENCE: “But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Are you ever confronted by a situation that demands patience? The next time it occurs think of it as an occasion in which our Lord is trying to strengthen you. The capacity to relax and wait on the Lord should be thought of as a state of being you can access at any moment and not something reserved for later on. You can relax NOW.

Being more relaxed involves training yourself to respond differently to the dramas of life. In doing so you turn your melodramas into mellow-dramas. You have trained yourself to respond like you do presently. Now you can engage in re-orientation and retrain yourself.

Consider life a classroom and patience the course of study. Consider this process of developing patience. Set a thirty minute period of time and say to yourself in advance, “During this time I won’t let anything bother me, I will be patient and wait on the Lord for solutions for everything that comes up in this thirty minutes.” This will strengthen your ability to be patient. This process is one where success feeds on success. The more successful you are in stringing thirty minute periods of time together the more successful you will be in exercising patience. You will develop strength through the Lord.

PURITY: One of the knights of the round table, Sir Lancelot, reputedly said, “My strength is the strength of ten because my heart is pure.”

“Truly God is good … to such as are pure in heart” (Psalm 73:1).

The word “pure” meant to be free from contaminants. Pure water was unpolluted water. The word was applied to an item being “tested by the sunlight.” Items were brought out into the bright sunlight and inspected to be certain they were free of contaminants.

Our lives should be lived with us being mindful we are constantly under the spotlight of the Son of God for His inspection. It is by His standard we are to measure our lives.

JOY: “…the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

The Hebrew word translated “strength” in this passage, MAOZ, means fortress or stronghold. To maintain a joyful spirit is to live in a spiritual fortress. The devil and his allies do not like to be around a spiritually joyful believer.

The Psalmist said it well: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).

“The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior” (II Samuel 22:3).

IN CHRIST: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Rom 5:6)

Even though we have the power, the ability, the strength, to live as we wish we do not have the power, the ability, the strength to live as we should. We need supernatural power, strength, to do this.

We who are powerless to do anything on our behalf regarding our eternal destiny have a Helper in the person of Jesus Christ. He exercised His power on our behalf by dying for us. Thus, He became the payment for the debt of our sin.

How Do I Love Thee?

The common concept is there are three Greek words meaning love. Actually there are eight. By understanding all eight we can better understand what some people really mean when they say “I love you.”

Original Greek “ér?s” is physical love or sexual desire. Eros is the type of love that involves passion, lust, and/or romance. Examples of eros would be the love felt between lovers. The word eros is still used in psychology today to refer to sexual desire or the libido. The words erotic and erogenous, which both have to do with sexual desire or arousal, are derived from eros.

Original Greek “philía” is affectionate love. Philia is the type of love that involves friendship. Philia is the kind of love that strong friends feel.

Original Greek “agáp?” is often defined as unconditional, sacrificial love. Agape is the kind of love that is felt by a person willing to do anything for another, including sacrificing themselves, without expecting anything in return. In the New Testament, agape is the word used to describe the love that God has for humanity and the love humanity has for God. Agape was also the love that Jesus Christ felt for humanity, which explains why he was willing to sacrifice himself.

Original Greek “storgé” is familial love. Storge is the natural love that family members have for one another. It is the type of love that parents feel toward their children and vice versa. Storge also describes the love that siblings feel towards each other, and the love felt by even more distant kin relationships.

Original Greek “manía” is obsessive love. Mania is the kind of “love” that stalkers feel toward their victims. As a type of love, mania is not good, Mania is excessive love that reaches the point of obsession or madness. Mania describes what a jilted lover feels when they are extremely jealous of a rival or the unhealthy obsession that can result from mental illness.

Original Latin “ludus” comes from Latin rather than Greek. In Latin, l?dus means “game” or “play,” which fits with the type of love it refers to. Ludus is playful, noncommittal love. When it comes to ludus, a person is not looking for a committed relationship. People who are after ludus are just looking to have fun or view sex as a prize to be won. Both parties bring things that benefit the relationship, but neither partner is interested in commitment. Of course, ludus may eventually result in eros—and hopefully not mania—if feelings of passion or romance emerge during the relationship.

Original Greek “prágma” is practical love. Pragma is love based on duty, obligation, or logic. Pragma is the unsexy love that you might find in the political, arranged marriages throughout history. The word pragma is related to pragmatic, a word that is all about practicality.

Original Greek “philautía” is self-love that refers to how persons view themselves and how they feel about their own body and mind. The modern equivalent is self-esteem (good) or hubris (bad) Egomaniacal narcissists who think they are better than everybody else are also an example of philautia, but not in a healthy way.

Evaluate your love relations including how you love the Lord.

The Nearness of God

Your eye consists of more than one hundred million rods and six million cones in the retina. If they were shaped slightly differently you could see an aura surrounding each human body. Infrared cameras can actually photograph this mysterious spectrum. At death this aura goes out just like turning out a light. Vibrations that accompany the light in life also cease at death.

A person can sit with legs folded on what is known as a cold hot plate and fry an egg on a plate between his legs. The eggs fry and the human feels nothing. Persons and eggs respond differently because they are not both in tune with the same wavelengths of such heat.

Dogs hear whistles that are indiscernible to the natural human ear. Human ears are simply tuned to the sound of the whistle.

Is it possible that existing as a co-tenant with humanity is the spiritual world just outside the range of our five senses? 

Jesus said He would not leave us, that He would be with us always. Explaining that is beyond my pay grade. We live by faith, not feelings, or any of our other four senses. Though undetected and undetectable He may be more near us than we have ever realized.

Most believers have felt the nearness of God at special times. Those are rare sensations not to be sought, though the nearness of God is felt at appropriate times.

We are told to “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. … “ Then follows the way to do this, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4: 8)

To cleanse your hands is a reference to having your sins forgiven. It is a reference to outward conduct, sins needing forgiveness. One household has a little sign by their lavatory reading: “Wash your hands and say your prayers because Jesus and germs are everywhere!”

Studies show 31 per cent of women and 57 per cent of men don’t wash their hands after going to the toilet. Even more repulsive is that many people don’t repent and ask Jesus’ cleansing after sin.

To “Purify your hearts” means to clean out any wicked thoughts, motives, desires, and intentions, from the core of our being, to purge your mind of them.

You can’t have clean hands without a pure heart. The two go together like hand and glove.       

You may do so without feeling his presence, but you can’t feel His presence without doing it.

Whether you sense His presence or not, He is there. Don’t act like, act because of it.