Part 2. The prophet’s love story doesn’t jump to “happily ever after”. As children were born to them, God used their names to proclaim difficult messages to Israel. But these messages also affected his bride, who eventually gave up and run away from true love. Both Gomer and Israel fell into the traps of Satan, traps we can avoid and protect ourselves from running from the love of God.
Part 1. God is love, and He created us to love and be loved by Him. We understand the image of a Heavenly Father loving His children, but Scripture reveals another picture of His incredible love. One man’s family became the living portrait of that love.
Without God’s strength, we are all weak. Maybe you don’t agree with that statement, but it is true. If you are only depending upon your own physical, emotional and mental prowess, you will eventually fall under one of the weights the world will throw at you. And there are many.
Previously, I wrote about finding the strength of Jesus. In Christ’s victory over death and the grave there is no weakness, only strength. It is greater than any power or strength you can build on your own. Actually, it requires our weakness to be present. It seems we only invite the strength of God into our lives when we come to grips with the truth of our personal weakness.
In Psalm 18, David wrote an incredible description of the strength of God at work in his life. But before that, he started with one incredibly loaded sentence. Learning the power of this sentence helps us receive and recognize God’s strength as our only strength.
Part 4. The Holy Spirit is the giver of God’s Gifts to us. They are meant to be part of our lives, but do we forget why? What are the Gifts of the Spirit really for? The Spirit gives by His design and with specific intent. We need a change of heart to see the Gifts return.
You did it. Someone stopped you on the street. A family member was over at your house for dinner. You stopped into a church without any clue as to what awaited you inside. And suddenly it all made sense. God is real. Jesus did everything you couldn’t do. Now you believe. You’re a follower of Jesus. The old is gone, the new has come, and you’re ready to start down the journey.
Before long some well-meaning but misguided person or group is going to start imposing rules on your life. Don’t do this. Do that. Fill your days here and not there. At first it sounds simple and you desire God so much that you go along with it. As the days turn into weeks, months and years, you learn to gauge how well you and those around you are doing at knowing God. You read your Bible and pray everyday. Your car can almost always be found in the church parking lot because you never miss a service.
Some of us really like rules. We like to-do lists and have apps for that. That’s right, we don’t just have one, we have a few. Because we don’t want to miss anything, don’t want to leave anything undone. So we’re going to work at it. One of the categories for your to-do’s is simple named, “God.” Your Bible reading plan is there. A list of prayer needs is there. There’s even a calculator for your tithes, missions support, child sponsorship and food bank donations. Plus a calendar with all of those services you wouldn’t want to miss, your discipleship course, conferences, book reading deadlines, and so much more.
Is this the relationship we are called to with Jesus Christ? Is it about to-do lists and rules? We want to stay close to Him and far from evil. Growth is the name of our game; we aren’t staying still because staying still is moving backwards because it ain’t moving forwards. I wonder what Jesus would have to say about all this doing and obeying.
Part 9. When the local community hears a prison full of inmates was released, they hide in fear of what might happen to them. The Church has a similar fear of those who claim freedom in Christ. We need to remember that a life of freedom is not lawlessness, but is forever subject to a greater law.