“There are inescapable cravings in the core of every human heart that cannot be ignored, denied or pacified: they must be satisfied.” -Mike Bickle
Fundamental to every living person are longings that transcend culture, religion, or lifestyle. These longings are given by God, and only He can fulfill them. They are what drive every pursuit and every motive in life.
Take a quick glance at American culture and you’ll soon realize that everyone wants to be ‘Liked‘. From social media, to entertainment, this American generation wants to be heard and enjoyed for who they are. I believe this culture echoes a powerful longing in our hearts: the longing to be enjoyed.
While human companionship can provide a great sense of support and security, this longing to be enjoyed is rooted in a desire to be enjoyed by God Himself. When one’s life are marked by the enjoyment of God, there becomes a pillar of strength inside that isn’t easily swayed by the insecurities and opinions of others. This longing is foundational to our identity in Christ (1 John 4:19).
Jesus said, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” (John 15:9, emphasis mine) The measure with which the Father loves Jesus is the standard with which Jesus loves us. Let that sink in. How much does the Father love Jesus? It’s immeasurable. But Jesus goes one step further, and later says “that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23, emphasis mine) That means that both the Father and Jesus love you as much as the Father loves Jesus.
Would you say that Jesus is God’s favorite person? What does the God who is love feel towards Jesus, the God who is love? Because that’s what God feels towards Jesus, I believe we can all view ourselves as God’s favorite. God likes you because He likes Jesus; enjoys talking with you because He enjoys talking with Jesus; and hearing your worship. Imagine if we presented ourselves to God in worship as His favorite.
The Apostle John was so confident in this concept that he referred to himself as “the one Jesus loved”.
How far would you go to protect someone you love? Would you take a punch, take a bullet—would you die for them? Understanding the reason why Jesus died on the Cross will help convince us of God’s enjoyment over us. The Bible says “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…” (Heb. 12:2). What was the joy set before Him? Part of His joy was securing salvation for man-kind.
The greatest labor of love that ever happened was possible because Jesus pursued the greatest imaginable joy, namely, the joy of being exalted to God’s right hand in the assembly of a redeemed people: “For the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross!” –John Piper
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5
I am sure that we have all heard the great commandment from Deuteronomy 6:5 to love the Lord with all of our heart, mind and strength. Throughout the bible this command is continually held up as the pinnacle of what the Christian life is to be centered around (along with loving our neighbors as ourselves). Jesus confirmed this in the Gospels when He answered the questioning of the scribes in Mark 12:28-34.
Loving God with our hearts and minds seems very practical. Loving usually always has to do with matters of the heart and we all know about the unseen world of our minds that must be continually reigned in and governed to love the Lord. But what does it mean to love the Lord with all of our strength or might?
There are two attitudes, two primary mindsets that exist in the world when it comes to living in peace with the people around us. They are both effective in many ways, but I suggest that only one of these mindsets was the one Jesus was talking about when he talked about peacemaking. We will call these two approaches the peacemaker and the peacekeeper.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. -Matthew 5:9
Before we explore the differences between these two attitudes, we will look at the similarities between them. As Romans 12:18 states, it is a goal to live at peace with the people around us, and both these attitudes further that cause immensely. Many people live without caring about creating or maintaining peace at all. We can honor the peacekeeper while striving to transcend that mindset as peacemakers on the earth.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. -Romans 12:18
Despite the similarities, there are many differences in these two approaches to to peace.
These approaches look the most different when you consider them in the light of eternity. Peacekeepers use threats of violence, or the presence of physical power, to maintain peace. But peacemakers take aim at the heart of the problem: the hearts of people, starting with themselves.
There is a difference between unity and coexistence. To maintain a form of peace, peacekeepers will silence divergent opinions. But people who truly carry an overflowing peace in their hearts, shine bright:
“And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” -Mark 9:47-50
Salt is a preservative, but in the case of peacemaking, I like to think of it more as a festive flavor. As we shine with a humble holiness, we demonstrate that one thing is available to all of us, if we are bold enough to believe it: peace with God. As we unify around this truth, we discover that we have peace with each other as well.
I have been a governmental intercessor for 25 years, standing in the gap for our country. I began to truly intercede for the nation when I had my fourth child; today, with four grandchildren, I am still standing in the gap for America and training young intercessors.
Many battles have been won and some lost. Our job as intercessors is to stay steady, stand firm, and never, ever give up! Sometimes this is easier said than done. When you watch the news and it seems like you’re losing, you have to learn to declare the Word of the Lord, realize you’re in a long-term battle, and not grow weary.
I want to share some stories of governmental intercession that I hope will give encouragement in the midst of the battles we are facing right now as a nation.
If you’re like me, you’ve often wondered why the Church places an importance on “standing with Israel.” You’ve probably even seen some believers seeming a little bit flakey in how they act, out of love for Israel and the Jewish culture. Rather than just showing allegiance to Israel without knowing why, it’s important to get God’s heart for Israel and to understand her Biblical importance, even to you and me as individuals.
The entire storyline of the Bible (Old Testament and New) is about Israel, and the Jewish people. Does it “ruffle” your theological feathers that salvation first came for the Jews (Rom. 1:16, 11:11)? Thank God the Gentile Church has been included in the plans that God has for Israel, as well (Rom. 11:17).
To really understand why Israel is important we must go back to the beginning. In the Garden God made man and told him that He could eat anything but the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. After their disobedience and fall, God made a way for them to be reconciled to Himself. God knew that the only way that man could be reconciled to Himself would be for Him to do it Himself. No man was able to do it, so it must be God.
Through Israel’s Seed He would raise up Someone who would crush the Enemy’s head (Satan). He sovereignly chose that the Seed would come from the house of Abraham (Genesis 3:15). Fast forward to God’s promise to Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3). Then God said, “Lift your eyes now and look… For all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever” (Genesis 14:14-15).
A lot of people treat their time in the Word as an item on their to–do list that needs to be checked off. “I gotta get to the next chapter so I can be caught up on my Bible reading plan,” some might hurriedly mutter to themselves. What causes us to be preoccupied with simply finishing our Bible Reading Plan, and how can we better approach the subject of reading the Word?
Jesus warned the Jews in His day, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (Jn. 5:39) The Word is what displays God’s character and nature so that we are driven to talking with, and encountering God.
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